There’s a big shake-up in daytime television on the way. After 25 years on the air, The Oprah Winfrey Show is coming to an end.
While viewers may be a bit stunned by the news, it doesn’t come as a big surprise to the local TV stations who air the show in first-run syndication. Though ratings have fallen in recent years, hitting an all-time low last June, it remains the most popular show in daytime and helps attract viewers to local newscasts. This season’s episodes have been averaging a 3.0 rating in the key demo and about 7.3 million viewers daily.
Winfrey’s decision to end her daytime talk show is sure to shake up the local affiliate markets. Those who currently carry the series will have to figure out how to best fill the time. For rival stations, they’ll have a key opportunity to lure viewers who’d previously been devoted to watching the Winfrey Show.
On today’s show, Winfrey said, “Why walk away and make the next season the last? Here is the real reason — I love this show. This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say ‘goodbye.’ Twenty-five years feels right in my bones and it feels right in my spirit. It’s the perfect number, the exact right time. So I hope you will take this 18-month ride with me right through to the finale show.”
The last episode will air on September 9, 2011.
The decision to end the show doesn’t mean that Winfrey is leaving the small screen entirely however. In partnership with Discovery Communications, she’s starting her own cable channel; OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. That’s expected to launch at the end of 2010 and to be available to more than 80 million households.
Though nothing’s been announced yet, it’s expected that Winfrey will be an on-screen presence on OWN in some way. Speculation ranges from a daily talk show to occasional specials.
What do you think? Will you be sad to see the show end? Would you make the effort to watch another Winfrey show on a new cable station?