January 18, 2013

The Sked: Big Apology without Remorse Fails to Jump Start OWN

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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Lance Armstrong (as calculating, cautious and conniving as ever) appeared with Oprah Winfrey Thursday night on the struggling OWN network in a much-hyped and relatively little-watched interview.

The 90-minute part one of Lance Armstrong on Oprah’s Next Chapter at 9:00 pm scored a 1.2 rating with adults 18-49 and averaged 3.2 million viewers of any age.  The interview was repeated immediately at 10:30 and scored a 0.4 18-49 rating and another 1.1 million viewers 2+.  Big deal.

With the amount of attention and free promotion this program received, it should have ranked higher than 5th among all cable programs Thursday.  (NBA on TNT at 10:39 (1.7 for Miami at Lakers), Buckwild on MTV at 10:31 (1.3), and two Family Guy episodes on TBS at 11:00 and 11:30 pm (both 1.3) beat it in the 18-49 demo.)

Looking at viewers of any age,  the 9 pm telecast of the Armstrong interview finished 4th for the day behind a repeat NCIS on USA at 8 pm (3.65 million), Suits on USA at 10:00 (3.57 million) and NBA on TNT (3.55 million).

Turning to broadcast competition, Oprah and Lance did manage to beat The CW in the 9 pm hour (a terrible rating for a repeat of Carrie Diaries: 0.4 adult 18-49 rating and 1.1 million viewers 2+) and challenged the other 98-pound weakling on the night, NBC.  The special come close to The Office (2.1 demo and 4.2 million viewers) and basically tied the awful 1600 Penn (1.2 rating and 3.0 million viewers 2+), but catching NBC Thursday is not much of an accomplishment.

Most important, the interview did not redefine OWN or set any important network records.  The 3.2 million for Armstrong was only the second-most watched telecast in OWN history (behind Oprah’s Next Chapter with Whitney Houston’s family on Sunday, March 11, 2012, which averaged 3.5 million viewers).   In their press release, OWN could only say Armstrong “marked the highest rated weekday telecast in OWN history across all key demos” (emphasis added).  A bit of a thin statement.


About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.