Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Shows Strong Ratings

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REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The talk-show queen will be relieved that viewers spent New Year’s Day not only recovering from celebrations the night before, but also deciding to check out her new network.

The numbers are in, and they’re not bad at all. During Saturday’s primetime premiere at 8 pm, for the crucially important 25-54 female demographic, OWN came third, only trailing ESPN and USA. According to early figures from the Nielsen Co., that first show shown — an episode of Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes — brought in 1.2 million total viewers (as did the following program). OWN pulled in 399,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic and 507,000 in the 25-54 demographic for its debut primetime offerings.That’s pretty good on two counts: Saturday night figures are never particularly strong, and especially so on New Year’s Day.

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Looking back on the earlier part of Saturday, the seemingly small 0.7 household rating, when the network debuted at midday, was actually a whopping 555% gain compared to the same time period four weeks ago and a positively let’s-crack-open-the-champagne 1100% gain year-to-year. OWN, which took over the channel position occupied by Discovery Health, is available in 67% of U.S. homes and was three years in the making at a cost of nearly $200 million.

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Sunday’s figures were considerably lower — no show hit the million mark — which means that the weekend wasn’t an unqualified success. What will be worth watching over the forthcoming weeks is whether the curiosity factor, buzz and promotion from Oprah herself will dry up or actually solidify its place in a crowded market. But when you consider that Oprah isn’t accustomed to failure, it would be unwise to think that OWN isn’t going to, well, own at least a small part of your viewing habits. (via The Hollywood Reporter)