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Opinion: As Obama’s delegate numbers climb, Oprah’s ratings tumble

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As previewed in The Ticket last month, new ratings of daytime television programs show that Oprah Winfrey’s daily talk show for women has dropped in ratings since her highly publicized political rallying for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama last fall.

Perhaps coincidentally, the longtime, daytime talk-show diva has not been seen on the Democratic presidential campaign trail in recent months.

Before the primaries and caucuses, she was credited with helping to draw impressive crowds and thousands of new volunteers to Obama rallies in Iowa, which he won, in New Hampshire, which he lost, and in South Carolina, which he won.

An October Gallup Poll before the rallies but after her public endorsement of the Illinois freshman senator found her favorable ratings had fallen from 74% to 66% while her unfavorable ratings jumped by more than 50% from 17% to 26%.

When this was noted in an April Ticket item, hundreds of female commenters, many clearly supporting the Democratic candidacy of Sen. Hillary Clinton, left angry comments about Winfrey’s....

...failure to support the first serious White House candidacy of a female. They also seemed angered over her public advocating of new-age spiritualism, including among her book club choices.

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Now come new TV ratings showing that her daytime audience, which is still the largest and was nearly 9 million at its height in 2004-05, has fallen for the third straight year, to 7.8 million a year ago and now down further to 7.3 million.

Her monthly publication, ‘O, The Oprah Magazine,’ has also lost 10% of its circulation in the last three years, according to a New York Times story. And a new editor is being sought.

Officials of billionaire Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions, profess no concern over the dip in numbers. They say daytime audiences have generally declined and her audience is still about one-third larger than the No. 2 daytime program, ‘Dr. Phil.’ Many Ticket commenters also said they had switched their viewing habits to ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show.’

Figures also show that Winfrey has lost about 25% of her female audience between ages 25 and 54 in the last 36 months.

Harpo sources point to last winter’s opening success of Oprah’s ABC reality philanthropy show, ‘Oprah’s Big Give,’ which drew more viewers than all shows but ‘American Idol.’ However, the ‘Give’ audience fell by almost 33% in its next seven weeks.

And Winfrey decided to discontinue production of the program.

Next up: Winfrey’s own cable channel called, of course, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a joint endeavor with the Discovery Channel.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credit: Newsday


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