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OWN Picks Up Steam With Armstrong Interview

OWN Picks Up Steam With Armstrong Interview 1/20/2013 7:00 PM Eastern

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network is starting to gain some momentum.

Winfrey’s highly publicized (exclusive) interview with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong on OWN drew 3.2 million viewers, network officials announced last Friday (Jan. 18).

Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive, in which Armstrong admitted that he took performance-enhancing drugs during his run of seven Tour de France wins in the mid-2000s, also drew an additional 1.1 million viewers in a second airing at 10:30.

The interview failed to beat out OWN’s previous high of 3.5 million viewers generated by Winfrey’s March 11 Oprah’s Next Chapter interview with Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina and family, but marked the highest weekday telecast in OWN history across all key demos, according to network officials.

The interview performance continues OWN’s impressive ratings momentum. OWN’s 2012 primetime ratings were up 27% year to year to 326,000 total viewers, bolstered by several highprofile Winfrey interviews, as well as original series such as Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s and Iyanla: Fix My Life. That’s well above the 256,000 viewers the network averaged in its inaugural year.

It also comes as the 83 million-subscriber OWN, a 50/50 partnership between Winfrey and Discovery Communications, is projected to benefit from a spike in affiliate revenues from distributors. The network is expected to generate 10 cents per subscriber in 2013, a huge jump from the penny the network garnered at launch in 2011, according to SNL Kagan. The New York Times reported the network could collect as much as 20 cents per subscriber per month in 2013.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav said at last month’s UBS Global Media and Communications conference in New York that he expects the network to turn a profit by the middle of 2014.

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