3.2 million people watched Oprah Winfrey interview Lance Armstrong on a special edition of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” last night on OWN, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen. It drew an additional 1.2 million viewers in its re-air at 10:30 p.m.
While it was an extremely good night for Oprah and OWN, it was not a record-breaking one ratings-wise. The highest-rated program in OWN’s history was the interview with Whitney Houston‘s daughter Bobbi Kristina, as well as other members of the Houston family, following the singer’s death. That episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” drew 3.5 million viewers in March, 2012. In August of 2012, an interview with singer Rihanna drew 2.5 million viewers to the program.
It is worth noting that OWN also streamed the interview live on Oprah.com, something that it has not done previously for any interviews. That may have cannibalized some of the viewership.
Tonight OWN will air part two of the interview. Given the fact that Armstrong has already made the confession, and that it is a Friday night, expect the ratings to slide considerably.
For Oprah, the interview is big only by comparison. Back when she had her syndicated network talk show in the 1990s, her big interviews would routinely garner more than 10 million viewers.