The parent company tried to put the best face on it that it could, but in the final analysis, neither Rosie O’Donnell nor Oprah Winfrey cracked the half-million viewer mark in the debuts of their new shows on OWN Monday.
Here’s what happened: In a press release issued late Tuesday with the viewership figures for the Monday premieres of “The Rosie Show” at 7/6c followed by “Oprah’s Lifeclass” at 8/7c, parent company Discovery Networks produced numbers that took each show’s simulcasts on other networks into account.
In that scenario, said the company, “Rosie” attracted 1.5 million total viewers, and “Lifeclass” drew 1.2 million, when you add up the viewership on OWN plus four other Discovery-owned channels that were pressed into service to simultaneously air the premieres – TLC, Discovery Fit & Health, Investigation Discovery and Planet Green.
However, on OWN alone, “Rosie” averaged just 497,000 viewers. “Lifeclass” had less – 330,000. We happen to think that’s the more significant number for the simple reason that it’s the OWN viewership that counts the most, especially going forward, since Winfrey and her partners at Discovery are depending on both shows to press the struggling channel’s refresh button.
To its credit, the Discovery press release did indeed include the “OWN-only” numbers. In addition, let’s emphasize that there’s nothing intrinsically inaccurate about the multi-network viewer tallies either. We just don’t happen to think they’re very valuable as a yardstick for measuring the impact of the dual premieres because their simulcasts were a one-night-only gimmick.
However, as the press release noted, the OWN-only numbers represented substantial improvements in viewership for both shows’ time periods – a 238 percent increase in viewership for the 7-8 hour/6-7c (“Rosie”) and a 103 percent improvement at 8/7c (“Oprah’s Lifeclass”).
Unfortunately, though, the still-lowly numbers for both premieres has already led to some brutal, negative press coverage – such as this story on the Los Angeles Times Web site that carries the headline “Rosie O’Donnell flops in OWN talk premiere.” Ouch.