All eyes on ratings as Oprah scoops rivals
Lance Armstrong’s ridiculously late admission that yes, he did dope his way to seven Tour de France titles, is unlikely to the rehabilitate the disgraced cyclist in the eyes of the public, but the advance publicity is already doing wonders for Oprah Winfrey’s television network OWN.
Winfrey has expertly managed to sustain interest in the interview via a drip-feed of details ahead of the two-part broadcast, the first part of which will be aired at 9pm New York time (2am Irish time) tonight with the second half due tomorrow night.
“He did not come clean in the manner that I expected,” she told CBS.
Winfrey has spent the last year trying to overhaul the struggling network, partly by leveraging her own star power on the series Oprah’s Next Chapter.
The Armstrong interview is even threatening to lure viewers away from American Idol, as the singing competition returns for its 12th season on News Corporation’s Fox network with new judges Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith “Mr Nicole Kidman” Urban recruited to reverse viewer losses sustained in 2012.
Both shows compete for the eyeballs of older women. “The median age for Idol was over 50 last year and skewed more toward females,” Brad Adgate, director of research at New York advertising firm Horizon Media told Bloomberg. “That’s Oprah’s core viewer as well.”
Indeed, almost three-quarters of OWN’s audience is female, according to Nielsen data.
However, Armstrong’s volte-face after 13 years of denials is likely to bring more male viewers Winfrey’s way – assuming betrayed cycling fans can stomach watching his belated confession.