OWN owns! Oprah’s Next Chapter off to big start

The two-hour premiere of Oprah Winfrey’s new primetime interview series, Oprah’s Next Chapter, garnered the network’s highest Sunday premiere ever. Is this the first sign of a ratings rebound for the struggling OWN channel?

The Oprah Winfrey Network, OWN, could be on the way to recovering from a bad 2011.

The Queen of Talk’s latest series premiered to impressive ratings over the New Year’s weekend. The two-hour premiere of Oprah’s Next Chapter, which aired on Jan. 1, pulled in 1.1 million viewers.

It was the network’s highest-rated Sunday premiere ever. The feat smashed the bar set by Rosie O’Donnell’s OWN talk show, which struggled to scrape in 500,000 viewers when it kicked off last year.

The weekend broadcast also became the highest-rated premiere for an OWN series outside of the network’s launch weekend. Oprah’s Next Chapter ranked just behind the premiere of Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, which pulled in 1.2 million viewers when it aired on Jan. 1, 2011.

Next Chapter sees O. stepping outside the studio to do what she does like no one else: Conduct groundbreaking interviews. The inaugural episode saw the legendary chat hostess trading dish with newly-engaged rocker Steven Tyler at his home in Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire.

Oprah’s Next Chapter: Primetime TV >>

Oprah has committed to producing 70 hours of the series this year.

Could Oprah’s Next Chapter be the first sign of a “new chapter” for the ratings-challenged OWN?

The OWN network’s ratings peaked at around 153,000 daily viewers when it replaced the Discovery Health channel in January 2011. But by October, the daily numbers had slid down to around 121,000.

She’s back! Oprah’s Next Chapter premieres >>

“[Oprah] anticipated her immense fanbase would follow her [to OWN],” media analyst Marc Berman said in November. “But that hasn’t been the case. Expectations were through the roof, but ratings aren’t close to meeting them.”

Last week, Winfrey assured fans that she’s committed to rescuing her monogrammed TV channel.

“I would absolutely say it is and was not where I want it to be for year one,” Winfrey said. “I am a determined and committed woman. I don’t give up. I’m just getting started.”

Photo credit: WENN.com


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