Media Money with Julia Boorstin

Oprah’s ‘Next Chapter’ Draws 1.1 Million Viewers

Oprah Winfrey
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The ratings are finally in for “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” the media queen’s new show on OWN and the Sunday night premiere drew 1.1 million viewers.

No surprise, that’s the highest-rated premiere on “Oprah Winfrey Network,” Winfrey’s joint venture with Discovery . It ranked just behind the premiere of “Oprah Behind the Scenes” exactly one year earlier which drew 1.2 million viewers. And no surprise, Winfrey drew exactly her target demographic—based on the OWN press release all 1.1 million viewers were women 25 to 54.

In stark contrast, the May 25 finale of the syndicated ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ drew a whopping 16.4 million viewers. Back in 1998 Winfrey had an estimated 14 million viewers, dropping to just over 7 million in 2008, though it remained the highest-rated talk show.

Still, the ratings for the premiere of Winfrey’s new show offer hope that the Queen of all media could turn her struggling year-old network around. The channel’s ratings have been ten percent lower than the channel it replaced, Discovery Health. There’s no debating it—OWN’s launch has been a massive disappointment, marked by high turnover of senior executives.

Will Winfrey’s new show be the signature programming that OWN was sorely lacking? Her star power seems untarnished, and she can still snag huge stars as guests. Winfrey managed to grow viewers over the course of the two hours. And the biggest complaint about Sunday’s show is that it was two hours long, and moving forward the show will only be an hour.

Even with Winfrey’s star power, OWN still faces big challenges, including the fact that many people still have a hard time finding the channel on TV. As word spreads we could see viewership build in the next few months. Then the question will be whether people who tune in to watch Oprah stick around to watch other programs.

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