The talk leader’s first show of her 24th season in syndication was up 45% in the overnights from last season’s premiere. But her new entry, Dr. Oz, didn’t live up to its high expectations, delivering a 1.7 household rating/5 share in its debut. However, Dr. Oz bettered its year-ago time slot by 31%.
Oprah Winfrey is hearing some good news and some not-so-good news this morning.
Yesterday’s 24th season premiere of Oprah quickly reestablished her as syndication’s top-rated talk show. But Dr. Oz, a new show co-produced by her Harpo Productions, failed to live up to its high expectations.
Oprah had a heavily promoted big-name get — troubled singer Whitney Houston — and it paid off with a 4.8 household rating/13 share, based on preliminary Nielsen overnight ratings, up 45 percent from its 3.1/8 for last season’s opening episode. And Oprah‘s season premiere results likely would have been higher considering the show aired on a delayed basis or was preempted altogether in nine major markets due to U.S. Open Tennis men’s final coverage.
Oprah, distributed by CBS Television Distribution, also did well yesterday in key demographic groups, based on 24 local people meter markets, with a 3.4 rating/17 share among women 25-54 and a 2.7/15 among women 18-49.
Oprah‘s ratings are under intense scrutiny these days because Winfrey’s No. 1 syndicated talk show is contracted to run only through the 2010-11 season.
Television station executives are concerned about the show, notably because its ratings have been sliding for years while its licensing fees are by far the highest of any syndicated talk show, all while TV stations are struggling through the worst ad downturn in memory.
Winfrey recently told Good Morning America‘s Diane Sawyer that she’d make a decision about continuing beyond next season by the end of this year.
Oprah’s ratings falloff has been severe. By comparison to yesterday’s 4.8/13, Oprah‘s season premiere in 2004 pulled a 7.3/21, based on overnight ratings. In 2005, Oprah’s premiere was down to a 6.4/16; in 2006 it had a 5.5/14; in 2007 a 4.6/12; last year a 3.1/8.
Full-season ratings have also plummeted. In 1991-92, Oprah averaged a 10.5 household rating for the September-through-September period. Last season through the week ending Aug. 16, Oprah had a 4.7 rating, its lowest ever.
Among women 25-54, Oprah had a 7.5 rating in 1991-92 and a 3.0 last season. Its women 18-49 rating tumbled during that period from a 7.3 to a 2.4.
Oprah also had huge year-to-year premiere day increases in top markets: +128% in New York (7.3 vs. 3.2); +73% in Los Angeles (5.7 vs. 3.3); and +85% in Chicago (9.6 vs. 5.2). Atlanta pulled the highest local market rating with a 10.6 rating, which was up +112% vs. the premiere date last year.
Meanwhile, several other syndicated talk shows premiered yesterday, including Dr. Oz with host Mehmet Oz, a New York surgeon who Winfrey has been grooming on her show for years. The show is distributed by Sony Pictures Television.
Dr. Oz pulled a 1.7 household rating/5 share in Nielsen metered markets for its debut, roughly what the short-lived Sharon Osbourne received when it debuted in 2003. However, Dr. Oz bettered its year-ago time slot by 31 percent.
By comparison, other Harpo talk shows generated significantly higher debut ratings. In 2006, CBS’s Rachael Ray debuted to a 2.8 overnight rating. In 2002, CBS’s Dr. Phil debuted to a 5.2.
Among talk shows yesterday, Oprah ranked No. 1 with a 4.8/13 in households. Dr. Phil‘s scheduled live premiere was pushed back a day because of the U.S. Open tennis match — a replacement episode pulled a 2.8/7.
Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly had 2.4/9; Warner Bros.’ Ellen, which had its season premiere last week, got a 2.1/6; Rachael Ray delivered a 1.8/6; CBS’s The Doctors had 1.8/5; Dr. Oz posted a 1.7/5; and NBCU Television Group’s Maury recorded a 1.4/5.