Armstrong confession a win for Oprah

The talk show queen's struggling cable channel is making big bucks from ad sales.

By Jonathan Berr Jan 18, 2013 1:10PM
File photo of Oprah Winfrey on October 25, 2012 ( Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)The winner in the Lance Armstrong doping saga is Oprah Winfrey, as if there was any doubt.

According to Advertising Age, advertisers are paying $100,000 to the talk show queen's struggling OWN cable channel to buy commercials for its two-part Armstrong interview special that continues Friday.

That's about 40% to 50% higher than they have paid for spots on other OWN interview specials, though still less than what other cable channels charge, the publication says. Then again, nothing is quite like the story of Armstrong, a Greek tragedy if there ever was one. Until recently, he was one of the world's most admired athletes and humanitarians. Now, many people see Armstrong as a liar and a cheat.

Though data on cable ratings and Web traffic was not immediately available, it is safe to say that last night's Armstrong confession was a big hit for Winfrey. It likely surpassed OWN's biggest ratings success to this point, which was Winfrey's interview with Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, which attracted about 3.5 million viewers.

Like most Americans, I had to look up where to find OWN on my cable network before I could tune in to watch the spectacle. A spokesperson for OWN said the network would release ratings information Friday afternoon. She declined to comment on Advertising Age's story.
The fact that Armstrong chose to spill his guts to Winfrey speaks volumes about the power that she has in popular culture. It also is a break that OWN, which she co-owns with Discovery (DISCA), desperately needs. 

Judging from the Twitter traffic, many people seemed to think Winfrey did a good job handling a tough interview. Maybe it will remind viewers of why they liked Winfrey in the first place and perhaps encourage then to check out OWN's other shows, such as "Ryan and Tatum: The O'Neals."

OWN has struggled to attract viewers ever since Winfrey ended her hugely popular syndicated talk show in 2011. Winfrey laid off 30 staffers last year and canceled Rosie O'Donnell's talk show to cut costs. As of last year, OWN had reportedly cost Discovery Communications more than $300 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. Winfrey has said she underestimated how difficult it would be to start her own network.

About the only downside to landing such a huge interview as Armstrong is Armstrong himself. According to reaction on Twitter and elsewhere, some viewers found him so unlikeable during Thursday night's chat that they may not have the stomach to tune in for the conclusion.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks.  Follow him on Twitter @jdberr

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Jan 18, 2013 3:56PM

So many negative comments about Oprah.  Some even said she did the interview to make money like that is a bad thing.  She didn't start her network as a non-profit, of course she is making money, so what.  The same people commenting, why do you go to work?

Why are Americans so hateful of successful people? 

People make comments like they know her personally or like she personally did something bad to them.  Stop the hating, it makes Americans look so bad.


Jan 18, 2013 3:49PM

WTF! Why do you hate Oprah?

 She isn't taking money from you and -2nd- 20/20, DATELINE, Barbara Walter's Specials....all the shows do stories and exclusives (including things like the Sandy Hook Specials) to sell advertising based on the ratings they will get.


Amazing how one rich black woman pisses everybody off. Meanwhile, there are over 100 white women just as rich as Oprah....because they married some rich guy or inherited.

Jan 18, 2013 4:01PM
Isn't Oprah what it's all supposed to be about in America? Hard work, tenacity and over coming obstacles on the way to financial success? I see many envious people out there. Nothing succeeds like success.Lance Armstrong on the other hand..............?
Jan 18, 2013 3:48PM
Five minutes is all you had to watch -- the only person who believes a liar is the liar.
Jan 18, 2013 4:11PM

Oprah is  snobby for helping girls in Africa?

Do you know anything about Africa and the situation women and girls are in? African girls aren't getting the help that Chinese girls are getting, or gang rape victims from India, are getting or Muslim women under extremist- even though ALL THREE situations are things African girls and women have been suffering with for many decades!

 And everybody seems to want to adopt an african BOY- since Madonna and the BLIND SIDE. Africa is all about males and males dominence- we don't go to China to adopt BOYS?


Oprah does give to American charities. But she said that poverty is different in the US. She is right. Poor kids here may be hungry or homeless, but they have toys, some have pricey shoes (from when times were good), some have cell phones, a tv. In Africa, they don't have WATER or feminine hygenie products, or simple a safe path to get to school or work.

Jan 18, 2013 4:17PM

I do agree that Oprah has become out of touch. But that is not because she is Oprah.

Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Michael Jordan, Candi is all of function of having EXTREME wealth for a certain amount of time.


Oprah hasn't suggested that she is trying to save the world any more - OR LESS- than any other talks show, news show, 20/20, 60 minutes, DATELINE....its all "we want to warn you.....we want ot help need to know"- and we need to get ratings and ad$$$$!


[[If its not PBS, they are not trying to inform you out of civic duty]]]

Jan 18, 2013 3:28PM

I think her Tom Cruise interview was better. Maybe Lance should have jumped on a couch and joined Scientology.

Jan 18, 2013 3:51PM
Would have loved to have Mike Wallace for this interview... too bad he's gone.
Jan 18, 2013 3:49PM
One reason why Oprah won't press him too hard, she would love to become the place to go for celebrity confessions.  Can't press too hard, or no one else will sign onto the money train...
Jan 18, 2013 4:33PM
While waiting to have my car serviced on Tuesday, CNN had the Oprah interview with Armstrong as part of their coverage.  On and on and on, yikes it was scary to see how much coverage they devoted to this interview.  In my opinion it is old news, he did drugs, lied about and paid the price.  I was amazed to see CNN so obsessed with the story.  So Oprah did the interview, is that worth athe 24/7 news cycle.
Jan 18, 2013 5:01PM
Good for her, super, wonderful, /yawn
Jan 18, 2013 5:17PM

Who Cares ....Oprah Gives away Millions.......say what you wanna about OPRAH..

She is GOOD people.........dont hate her cause she is FILTHY RICH!


Good Job Lance.........You are the First to admit where MANY just dont not have the GUTS.


May not seem like it now but Give it time...We know what you earned. and..did for Cancer Foundations


History will say you just got a little Cancer...and needed a boost.....


You are still MR Tour de FRANCE....we your YOUTH....nobody could touch you on a BIKE.

Jan 18, 2013 3:53PM

Thanks MSN for more TROLL BAITING!!

Ohhh wow! A TV show had a guest on to get ratings and sell advertivising.........THAT IS AWFUL!!


[Tom Fletcher- why would anyone report on Lance Armstrong " for the public"? Steriods isn't contagious. His story is in newspapers and  on the covers of magazines for the same reason- to sell!]

Jan 18, 2013 3:24PM

East we did not hear from Barbera WAWA


Jan 18, 2013 3:52PM
Oprah.".there's no such thing as a free can't get ahead on the misery of other people". Your using people to get rich off of.  You "Con" people into making them think that you actually care about them...then they find out later you were just using their story to get rich. Anyone who watches your show is helping in your deception. You use people as a "stepping stone" to get rich. Remember that , when the people you've stepped on to get to the will meet on the way to the bottom. Barbera Walters,and others in the news business do the same thing..."watch MY's all about ME,ME,ME !!!! I interviewed so,and so,and he's/she's famous,and I get to go to fancy parties,...well who really cares anyway? The poor people who have no home,or food,or are hard working folks who are just barely making it ? I think not.
Jan 18, 2013 5:31PM
I enjoyed the interviewed can hardly wait for tonight! Oprah knows how to get the answer's, I liked how how she went straight into the yes or no questions and then the breakdown.
Jan 18, 2013 2:11PM
They probably got together to figure out how much his confession would spike her ad revenues and cut a deal.  LoL
Jan 18, 2013 4:49PM
Oprah has always been about money first!  Sorry but it is true.
Really???  Not everyone has a personality to get along with, he doesn't have to be your best friend.  Slam him if you're perfect, otherwise, leave him alone and move on.  I bet you haven't ever told a lie to cover up something you did, you're just not famous.
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