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January 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

It may be premature to make a conclusive judgment, but early indications are that Oprah Winfrey has not lost her Midas touch with her OWN cable network. According to Nielsen, within the cable universe, the network ranked only behind ESPN and USA Networks among its target audience of women 25-54 during primetime on Saturday, its launch day. Its total viewer count averaged 1.2 million, a solid figure for any cable line-up but particularly impressive on a Saturday night, the lightest night of the week for TV viewing. However, Sunday’s ratings for OWN dropped significantly below Saturday’s. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Horizon Media entertainment analyst Brad Adgate commented, “There was certainly a curiosity factor, ‘buzz’ and heavy promotions from Oprah herself to explain these strong numbers. … Conan [O’Brien] also had a strong number for his premiere in November [on TBS] and quickly dropped; I would suspect the same with OWN going forward.” Similarly, Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at brokerage firm BTIG, remarked in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, “The good news is people showed up when they marketed it aggressively and Oprah told them to go out and watch. … The real question is how capable they’ll be of sustaining the ratings over the coming months and years.”