Oprah's OWN network gets ad premium for Armstrong confession

Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:07am EST
 
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By Lisa Richwine and Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Oprah Winfrey's cable network OWN is close to selling out advertising time at premium prices for the highly anticipated televised doping confession by former cycling champion Lance Armstrong, a senior network executive said.

The network, a joint venture with Discovery Communications Inc, expects to sell all of the remaining commercial time for the two-part version of "Oprah's Next Chapter," OWN President Erik Logan said in an interview late on Tuesday.

Both current and new sponsors have been calling to secure ad time during the telecast, which airs in primetime on Thursday and Friday, Logan said.

"We are seeing a great demand in the marketplace," he said.

Winfrey confirmed on Tuesday that Armstrong, who she interviewed on Monday, admitted to using banned performance-enhancing drugs during his professional cycling career that included seven Tour de France titles. The cyclist had vehemently denied doping for more than a decade.

OWN planned to air one episode with Armstrong but expanded the program to two nights after the cyclist talked with Winfrey for more than two hours.

The interview is generating a wave of publicity for OWN, the network Winfrey launched in 2011 to lackluster ratings. OWN's audience has grown in recent months after Winfrey became more involved in programming. In 2012, OWN's primetime ratings rose 32 percent over the previous year among its target audience of women aged 25 to 54, according to data from the network.

OWN averaged 147,000 viewers aged 25 to 54 during primetime in 2012, according to Nielsen data provided by Horizon Media.   Continued...

 
Cyclist Lance Armstrong is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in Austin, Texas, in this January 14, 2012 handout photo courtesy of Harpo Studios. REUTERS/Harpo Studios, Inc/George Burns/Handout