After months of promotion and anticipation, The Oprah Winfrey Show came to a close on May 25th. Unlike the thousands of shows that came before it, this episode didn’t have any guests. Winfrey stood on an empty stage and spoke about what the show and the viewers meant to her.
Though the episode won’t go down in history as a notable series finale, it did bring in big numbers. The final episode drew 16.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched Oprah episodes in 18 years. In February 1993, the “Why I Love Older Women” attracted 17.3 million viewers.
The last episode of Oprah also averaged an 11.5 household rating. In that category, it was the the highest rated episode in 16 years. The “Most Incredible Reunions Ever” installment registered an 11.7 rating back in in January 1996.
According to Nielsen, the surprise farewell episode that aired on May 23rd drew 12.3 million viewers. On May 24th, the second part of that event attracted 13 million viewers.
As suspected, the end of The Oprah Winfrey Show also brings layoffs at the Chicago-based Harpo Studios. Approximately 50 people have decided to follow Winfrey to Los Angeles to work for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Others will continue to work on new shows, including Rosie O’Donnell’s new OWN talk show. The remaining 250 will leave the company on their own or be laid off.
“Employees are being notified on a departmental basis whether their jobs will be eliminated,” a Harpo spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail. “Most of those leaving us are doing so voluntarily to pursue other interests.” The process began on May 25th, the same day that the last Oprah aired.
What do you think? Are you surprised that so many people tuned in for the finale? Were you watching? Will you miss the program?