Back in November, when CBS announced its latest morning infotainment series, “CBS This Morning,” at a New York news conference, co-host and Oprah Winfrey BFF Gayle King got asked whether she’d have Oprah on the show. Gayle said that she couldn’t see bringing Oprah on “just for the sake of having her on,” and that she would wait until it made news sense. In other words, they would not have Oprah on just because she happened to be in New York, taping an episode of her “Lifeclass” or something.
“CBS This Morning” announced Wednesday morning that it would interview Oprah on Monday.
What news warrants the interview at this particular time?
According to “CBS This Morning,” Oprah’s coming to “discuss everything from the latest developments at OWN, her Leadership Academy, and life after her daytime talk show.”
Plus, “CBS This Morning” added: “Winfrey is in New York for a live taping of her “Lifeclass” series.
It’s just possible that Oprah’s going on “CBS This Morning” next week, in particular, to gin up some good press on a major broadcast network the same week that she has to appear at Discovery Communication’s Upfront Presentation. That’s where she’ll be trying to convince hundreds of advertising execs what a great idea it would be to buy more ad time on her struggling OWN network — a co-venture with the Silver Spring-based Discovery.
This will be a tough crowd, given she just finished laying off 30 people and reshuffling (again) the OWN exec suite. And that just a few days after she pulled the plug on the net’s Rosie O’Donnell series, which, according to press reports, cost the network $15 million to to settle out Rosie’s contract alone.
Like clockwork, a couple of hours after “CBS This Morning” announced its big “get,” OWN network put out its first-quarter ratings, which show improvement compared with the first quarter of 2011.
Compared with the first quarter of ’11, OWN’s prime time is up by about 20,000 viewers. Compared with the last first quarter when the network was called Discovery Health — the first quarter of 2010 — OWN averaged about 80,000 more viewers in prime time.
And as they say, practically everywhere, “Up is up.” But as one competing network suit suggested Wednesday, it has been a very expensive way to attract 80,000 more viewers to a channel.
For this ratings improvement, Oprah owes great thanks to Whitney Houston, “American Idol” and Texas mega-church pastor Joel Osteen.
When OWN premiered “Oprah’s Next Chapter” in January, she interviewed “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler and clocked 1.1 million viewers. A few days later, she interviewed Osteen and logged 1.6 million viewers — which, at the time was the biggest audience the network had ever scored.
One month later, after Houston’s death, Oprah interviewed the pop singer’s daughter and bagged a whopping 3.5 million viewers (about as many people as watched the premiere of “Mad Men’s” fifth-season debut).