Lance Armstrong’s highly anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday did not disappoint in the ratings.
The media attention surrounding Armstrong’s confession was sure to be a boon to the Oprah Winfrey Network, aka OWN, and the overnight audience figures indicated just how big a boon it was.
The first part of Armstrong’s two-part interview with Winfrey attracted 3.2 million viewers on Thursday, enough to make it OWN’s second-most-watched program of all time, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The only program to beat Armstrong’s interview by the numbers was Winfrey’s interview with Whitney Houston’s family after the pop singer’s death. That interview, airing in March of last year, brought 3.5 million viewers to the network that Winfrey founded.
The encore airing of the first part of Armstrong’s interview added another 1.1 million viewers to the total. For the night, 4.3 million watched Armstrong talk about blood doping, cheating, erythropoietin, or EPO, and his desire to win.
For the young network, the figures were excellent across-the-board. As part of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” series, normally airing on Sundays, the Thursday broadcast led to OWN’s highest-ever weekday viewership numbers and earned the network’s best ratings among men.
The New York Daily News is raining on Oprah’s parade, however. Considering the national attention, the fact that Armstrong’s confession did not pull record numbers is disappointing, according to Daily News. That contention does merit some credence as the interview was an exclusive and marked the first time that Armstrong admitted he doped during his cycling career. All the attention was on Winfrey and the interview on OWN, and it only produced the second-biggest audience for the network. Still, it did get millions of people talking about Oprah and tuning in, which is something OWN won’t complain about.
The second part of Armstrong’s interview airs Friday at 9 p.m. EST, and it will definitely be interesting to see what the figures will be for the program. Considering Armstrong confessed in the first part of the interview with Oprah, what else can he say? Will viewers tune in? Or have they had enough of the talk about Armstrong, cycling, and doping? Those answers will be known soon enough after the credits roll and the overnight numbers come in on Saturday.
While Winfrey can enjoy the ratings rewards, Armstrong’s confession may be just the beginning of legal trouble with pending lawsuits against the disgraced cyclist.
A preview of the second part of Armstrong's interview with Winfrey, airing Friday, can be viewed below.