This was a year of big changes for talk show host Oprah Winfrey . From the launch of her Oprah Winfrey Network to the end of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (after 25 years on the air!), it was a year of highs and lows for the television icon.
The Jan. 1, 2011 launch of OWN kicked the year off with a bang, garnering positive reviews and big ratings. But the numbers quickly dropped. According to Entertainment Weekly, OWN’s premiere day averaged 1 million prime time viewers, but by the following Tuesday, viewership hit only 315,000. Also contributing to the ratings drop, some longtime Oprah fans complained that the new network wasn’t included in their cable TV package. Even some of the most loyal fans were not willing to pay to see Oprah.
In response to the lower-than-anticipated ratings, Oprah made some big changes at her network. In July, Bloomberg News reported that Oprah became chief executive officer of OWN after ratings at the cable channel fell below expectations.
The end of Oprah’s long-running talk show was another big moment in 2011. For her finale episode, Oprah stood alone on a stage and gave viewers a parting gift: 25 years worth of life lessons. She later packaged those life lessons into 25 episodes of “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” an OWN primetime series that featured old clips from her talk show.
Indeed, OWN viewers seemed to be clamoring for more face time from the Queen of Talk. According to The Washington Post, the “Lifeclass” premiere coupled with the premiere of Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show tripled the network’s ratings in the early evening time slot. By the end of “Lifeclass'” five-week run, Oprah actually had a guest or two on stage with her, and it was almost like old times.
So what’s in store for Oprah in 2012?
It’s a new year and a new beginning as she launches her next show, “Oprah’s Next Chapter” on Jan. 1 — one year to the day of the OWN Network launch. Expect interviews with celebs such as Steven Tyler and Paula Deen, but with a twist: Oprah will visit the stars on their turf. (A Paula Deen pajama party? We can’t wait!) She’ll also spend time with motivational speakers Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra. You can read a press release about the show here.
Other new OWN shows for 2012 include the Peter Walsh show “Extreme Clutter” and the party planning show “Party at Tiffany’s.”
Meanwhile, Oprah and her new family of friends taped a holiday message for all of her fans. You can check out Oprah’s holiday greeting here.
More from this contributor:
‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ Finale Goes Unplugged
Memorable TV and Movie Christmas Presents
Oprah’s Favorite Things 2011: Ideas Finder!