Oprah Winfrey's "worldwide exclusive" interview with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong greatly enhanced the performance of her nascent OWN network.
Thursday's installment of the highly anticipated "Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive" (the first of two parts) attracted 4.3 million viewers to the Oprah Winfrey Network, according to Nielsen ratings data. The first airing, at 9 p.m. Eastern, attracted 3.2 million viewers, and the second run, at 10:30 p.m. Eastern, delivered another 1.1 million.
The interview, which delivered solid numbers to become OWN's highest-rated night ever (although shy of the numbers she was generating in her last year on her syndicated talk show), was also streamed live on the oprah.com website. The number of online views has not yet been released.
The second part of the interview will be televised Friday night.
Thursday night's event proved that viewers, who have largely been scarce during OWN's first two years, were able to locate the channel in their TV lineups. Winfrey's ability to land the coveted interview -- outmaneuvering major networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and ESPN -- underscores the channel's potential, television analysts said.