January 03, 2012 1:02pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'Oprah's Next Chapter' Gives OWN Strongest Ratings Since Network Premiere
Though she didn't approach the numbers she's accustomed to with her former syndicated talk show, Oprah Winfrey's new OWN venture did pull in high ratings by the young network's modest standards.
On the anniversary of the cable venture's launch, Oprah's Next Chapter brought in 1.1 million total viewers during its special two-hour premiere. It marks the strongest Sunday premiere for an OWN series yet and the second highest broadcast since the Jan. 1 season premiere of Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes. That broadcast netted 1.2 million viewers on a Saturday.
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The network's most coveted demo, females 25-54, brought in a 1.1 rating, performing similarly just a shade under last year's Season 25, which scored a 1.11.
In other demos, Oprah's Next Chapter pulled in a .82 rating among women 18-49 and a .59 among adults in the same group.
While Oprah's numbers beat similarly hyped OWN ventures, it only modestly outperformed the premiere of Shania Twain's weekly series (839,000 viewers) and the top-rate show of its freshman year, The Judds, which averaged 724,000 viewers.
Rosie O'Donnell launched her daily OWN talker in October to the tune of 497,000 and has since lost nearly half of her audience.
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The real test for Oprah's Next Chapter is the coming weeks, which sees her start the regular one-hour format and interviewing an ecclectic group that includes Pastor Joel Osteen, George Lucas and Paula Deen.
After it's 1 million-topping premiere last year, Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes went on to average 541,000 viewers before it concluded its run with Oprah's talk show.
The final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast in May 2011, hit a 17-year ratings high of 18 million viewers after a season averaging around 7.4 million viewers.