Sunday, May 26, 2024

Oprah-Lance Armstrong Part 2 Gets Anemic Ratings on Friday Night


The second part of Oprah Winfrey’s big interview with Lance Armstrong on Friday night was a bust. The interview produced only 1.8 million viewers at 9pm and another 620,000 viewers in its rebroadcast at 11:30pm. For OWN, Oprah’s struggling network, that’s all very good. But it’s not great, not by a long shot.

Remember, the first part on Thursday night did 3.2 million at 9pm, and another 1.2 million in the second broadcast that night. The second part produced very little in the way of news on Friday except for Armstrong’s telling of how he admitted his lies to his 13 year old son. Otherwise, we are still clueless about how and why he doped, when he actually started, anything about his cancer, his marriage, who knew about the doping and when, and how he manipulated his way into the celebrity world.

It’s not that I don’t want OWN to do well. I do. Sure, why not? But I’ve learned more about how TV ratings press releases are worded because of Oprah and Lance than anything actually about Lance Armstrong. You have to interpret the press releases’ crazy rationales and declarations of faux success before getting to the reality of the situation.

For example, according to, the Friday night Oprah show scored a 0.6 rating in the 25-49 demo on cable that night. Compare that with the number 1 show on cable on Friday night, “Gold Rush.” The Discovery Channel show had a 1.8 rating in that demo. So you can see the different and level of interest. Most men watched NBA basketball on Friday night on cable.

And it wasn’t Oprah’s fault, necessarily. But between not knowing where OWN is on the “dial,” to Armstrong’s lack of emotion, contrition or any sense that he was sorry, the whole thing became rapidly less interesting from night to night.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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