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Thread: New York Times: Oprah Winfrey's ratings and popularity tanking out

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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    Talking New York Times: Oprah Winfrey's ratings and popularity tanking out

    Few Tremors in Oprahland
    By EDWARD WYATT
    LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey is still the queen of all media, but her crown is beginning to look a bit tarnished.

    The average audience for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” has fallen nearly 7 percent this year, according to Nielsen Media Research — its third straight year of decline. “Oprah’s Big Give,” an ABC philanthropic reality show, beat every program on television except “American Idol” in its premiere week this winter, but steadily lost nearly one-third of its audience during the rest of its eight-week run, according to Nielsen.

    The circulation of O, The Oprah Magazine, has fallen by more than 10 percent in the last three years, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and the magazine is now seeking a new editor in chief after the announced retirement of its longtime steward, Amy Gross.

    And while Ms. Winfrey still displays a Midas touch when it comes to the endorsement of books and products, some of her latest picks have attracted criticism from longtime fans as she has strayed into new-age spiritualism and, perhaps more dangerously, politics. Her endorsement of the presidential bid of Senator Barack Obama appears to have alienated some of the middle-aged white women who make up the bulk of her television audience, many of whom support Senator Hillary Clinton.

    “Not too long ago, she was like the pope,” rarely criticized by her ardent supporters, said Janice Peck, an associate professor of mass communication at the University of Colorado and the author of “The Age of Oprah,” a new book on Ms. Winfrey’s cultural influence.

    Since the endorsement, however, angry criticism of her political stance became a regular feature of the message boards on Oprah.com, Ms. Peck said. “There are a lot of her fans who are not Democrats or who support Hillary Clinton who feel betrayed,” she added.

    The weaker ratings come as Ms. Winfrey is embarking on what is perhaps her biggest project yet: the start-up of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a cable channel being created jointly with Discovery Communications. Its programming, though it will not include “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which is under contract with current stations through 2010, will entirely reflect Ms. Winfrey’s vision of what she calls empowering programming.

    Tim Bennett, the president of Harpo Productions, Ms. Winfrey’s primary business venture, said in an interview that all aspects of her business are thriving and disputed the idea that her political endorsement had caused problems. The audience for her daytime talk show, he noted, remains roughly one-third larger than the next most popular competitor, “Dr. Phil,” featuring Dr. Phil McGraw, who was introduced to the talk-show world by Ms. Winfrey herself.

    Any drop in her television ratings can be traced to general weakness in the overall television audience, Mr. Bennett said. Her political endorsement, which has never been highlighted on her syndicated talk show, has not generated any negative feedback from the stations that broadcast the program, he added.

    “Those stations pay us a lot of money for that show, and if they felt she was doing anything that was diminishing the mother lode, we would get a call saying, ‘Enough,’ ” Mr. Bennett said. “We didn’t hear one iota of feedback.”

    Ms. Winfrey was in South Africa last week and was unavailable for comment, her company said. She was there interviewing candidates to oversee the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a school she built and sponsors there. That school itself generated negative publicity for Ms. Winfrey last year, when a dorm matron at the school was accused of abusing six students over four months. A trial of the former employee, who has denied the abuse charges, is scheduled to start in July.

    Mr. Bennett also disputes the idea that Ms. Winfrey might be suffering from overexposure, even though she has recently expanded her empire with a satellite radio show, a network-television Oscar special, and a deal with Discovery Communications to start her new cable station.

    “I’ve never witnessed someone more in touch with the audience she serves,” he said. “She paces herself very well.”

    Both Mr. Bennett and Stephen McPherson, the president of ABC Entertainment, said that a second season of “Oprah’s Big Give” would have been a shoo-in for ABC’s prime-time lineup.

    “We loved that show and absolutely would have loved to bring it back,” Mr. McPherson said, addressing reporters this month at the announcement of ABC’s fall schedule. “But it was something she didn’t want to do.”

    The first episode of “Oprah’s Big Give” attracted 15.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen, second that week only to “American Idol,” which drew about 27 million. But it averaged only 11.1 million viewers over eight weeks and finished the season 32nd in total audience among all prime-time programs.

    Ms. Winfrey’s daytime audience has also declined, to about 7.3 million this year from 7.8 million a year ago and a peak of nearly 9 million in the 2004-2005 season. (Those Nielsen figures include viewers who record the show and watch it within seven days.)

    Robert Madden, a senior executive vice president at CBS Television Distribution, which oversees the syndication of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” said he is unworried by that decline.

    “It has been the No. 1 talk show for 471 consecutive weeks,” Mr. Madden said. “That’s a good barometer if her show is in trouble or not, and obviously if you’re No. 1, you’re not in trouble.”

    Certainly Ms. Winfrey has demonstrated she can still draw an audience. Her April 3 interview with the “pregnant man,” a female-to-male transsexual whose retained reproductive organs are carrying a child, drew an audience a third larger than the season average.

    Though the program has lost nearly one-quarter of its audience of women between the ages of 25 and 54 over the last three years, Mr. Madden said current viewership is about equal to where it was 10 years ago, and the recent declines can be tied to the more general falloff in television watching, particularly among daytime shows.

    “Ratings are down just because there are other things people are doing,” he said. Though Ms. Winfrey has lost viewers in some markets while “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” has gained, Ms. Winfrey’s show has regularly outdrawn Ms. DeGeneres’s when the two programs have gone head-to-head.

    Neither does the audience decline worry David Zaslav, chief executive of Discovery Communications, which will start OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network in the second half of 2009. Her Web site, Oprah.com, will be part of the new venture, and Mr. Zaslav noted that fans of Ms. Winfrey’s book club downloaded a recent online seminar about her current book pick some 30 million times.

    That book pick, “A New Earth,” by Eckhart Tolle, sold faster than any of the previous 60 selections of “Oprah’s Book Club.” But it also has attracted some criticism for Ms. Winfrey on her Web site, where some of her fans have said that the book’s spiritualist leanings go against Christian doctrine.

    “She is endorsing a kind of spirituality that can be offensive to traditional Christians,” Ms. Peck, the University of Colorado professor, said.

    The circulation of O, the magazine, ticked up by about 1 percent to 2.4 million at the end of last year from a year earlier, but is down from nearly 2.7 million in 2004, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. A spokeswoman for Ms. Winfrey’s magazine said it had enjoyed five straight years of growth in advertising pages. Ms. Gross, the magazine’s editor in chief since July 2000, has said she will delay her retirement until a successor is named.

    Ms. Winfrey is also continuing to develop new programs. A spinoff talk show featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz is planned for 2009, and earlier this year she signed a development deal for television projects featuring Kirstie Alley. A syndicated talk/cooking show featuring Rachael Ray has been less successful and has recently fallen out of Nielsen’s list of the top 25 syndicated programs.

    If Ms. Winfrey has cut back any part of her schedule, it has been in appearances in support of Mr. Obama. Following high-profile rallies just prior to the Iowa caucuses in December and leading up to Super Tuesday in February, Ms. Winfrey all but disappeared from the campaign trail, leading some pundits to wonder whether she had gauged a negative effect on her business.

    A Gallup poll conducted in October, shortly after Ms. Winfrey announced her support of Mr. Obama, found that her “favorable” rating fell by 8 percentage points, to 66 percent, from 74 percent in January 2007; her “unfavorable” mark jumped by more than half, to 26 percent from 17 percent.

    “I think the endorsement probably backfired with a number of her fans,” said Steven J. Ross, chairman of the history department at the University of Southern California, who is working on a book about Hollywood and politics. Movie moguls for decades have counseled stars not to stray into political endorsements, Mr. Ross said, “because once you open your mouth, you alienate 50 percent of your audience.”

    Mr. Zaslav, of Discovery, said he disagrees that the political endorsement has caused her any problems.

    “Oprah is a truly authentic personality, and she says what she thinks and what she believes in,” he said. “That is part of her authentic charm.”


    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/26/bu...nt&oref=slogin

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    When your on the top you have no where to go but down. However she's been on my poop list for a long time.

    1. She's a elitest, she sticks her O brand on anything she touches, even the kids at her school have to wear a O on their uniform.

    2. she owns 8 homes the last one cost 35 million dollars.. I understand investments but with that kind of money she could have built a city in Africa to help young people not just girls.

    3. she threw down the race card when a store wouldn't open for her because she wanted to buy a bunch of 17 thousand dollar purses, the store was closed for employee appreciation.

    4. as she has strayed into new-age spiritualism and, perhaps more dangerously, politics she attacked a woman for believing in Jesus on her show.. what happened to tolerance?

    5. she used to listen to people, now she talks at them - she believes her own press and believes herself to be devine.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    people feel betrayed when she announced her political leanings?

    why would people assume that the big O supports whatever candidate they like? LOL
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Because people are stupid.
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    I did so a long time ago, but people are getting sick unto death of her sanctimonious attitude. It was only a matter of time.

    Ever since she did that show last year announcing her hypothyroidism she's REALLY been on my shit list. My mother and sister both suffered this disease, and all she and that quack doctor she had on talked about was how it was your fault for not expressing yourself. As if O had a problem with that. They recommended R&R (O said a month at her Hawaiian retreat CURED her. Riiiiight bitch). and eating right. Well yes, but they never talked about crucial meds and how to talkto your doctor. Many, many doctors (including "Dr." Phil on past O eps) have the attitude of "you are just fat, stop looking for excuses" and O did nothing to help change that attitude.

    Now look at her, all fat again. Funny how that works-she's suffering hypothyroidism and not taking any meds, if you are to believe what she says on her show.

    And just to add to that, they kept hyping SOY products, which many experts believe contribute to hypothyroidism. Hey O? You might want to look into that and stop listening to shills for Soy products.
    Last edited by Tati; May 26th, 2008 at 10:15 AM.

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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    The Oprah is probably the most notorious celebrity yo-yo dieter of all time. It was only a matter of time before she tried trotting out "a thyroid problem" as an excuse. I don't know what her issues are about why she can't get her weight under control and keep it there, but I don't think she has a thyroid issue. She's got all the doctors, nutrionists, dieticians, and chefs in the world at her disposal, so it's something within herself that keeps her plump.

    I think it chaps her ass that it's something she can't control and that money can't buy her.
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

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    Awww, poor thing, how will she survive if her show goes off the air? Will she have enough to eat? A place to live?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

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    i bet a month at a hawaiian retreat would cure LOTS of ills.. TOO BAD NOBODY BUT O HAS ONE
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    I refuse to buy her magazine, anybody that has to have a huge picture of themself on every single issue has issues. Her show is bordering on the quack again, Dr. Oz is now a "therapist" even though he's really a heart surgeon. Oprah loves to eat, can't stop eating, so all her attempts will never work - every other show features her favorite foods, I think she uses the show as an excuse to eat in the name of "business".

    I just find it hilarious that she has all these women convinced she's "one of them" when she is a billionaire and when the lights go out she probably has nothing but scorn for them all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    The Oprah is probably the most notorious celebrity yo-yo dieter of all time. It was only a matter of time before she tried trotting out "a thyroid problem" as an excuse. I don't know what her issues are about why she can't get her weight under control and keep it there, but I don't think she has a thyroid issue. She's got all the doctors, nutrionists, dieticians, and chefs in the world at her disposal, so it's something within herself that keeps her plump.

    I think it chaps her ass that it's something she can't control and that money can't buy her.
    She claims she was tested for it after suffering the symptoms for years. This part is credible, because both my mother and sister had to fucking demand the doctors test them for it. Many doctors have the attitude of "put down the fork and get some exercise" and think hypothyroidism is just an excuse women are trying to grasp at so they don't have to do what is necessary to lose weight. I admit my mother had a problem with doing that, but my sister had been eating right and exercising for years with no noticeable results. It's like trying to push a boulder uphill trying to lose weight with hypothyroidism. The medication regulates the thyroid which regulates metabolism. "Hypo" means the thyroid and thus metabolism is sluggish and you CANNOT treat hypothyroidism without meds.

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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    I think my skepticism regarding Oprah having an issue with her thyroid is that she's porked back up again. I figure she's got the best doctors, so if thyroid is the problem, why can't they control it? I don't know, I may not be seeing this fairly or correctly.

    I personally think Oprah is one of those people who just can't put down the fork, and it's easier for her to say she has a thyroid problem than admitting she has no self-control.
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    people feel betrayed when she announced her political leanings?

    why would people assume that the big O supports whatever candidate they like? LOL

    well because the big O was a big fan of Hilary "I'm a sister" Clintons so of course everyone thought she would back her including her good "friend" Maya Angelou. For the record Maya is voting party and she is hanging loyal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GaPeach View Post
    When your on the top you have no where to go but down. However she's been on my poop list for a long time.

    1. She's a elitest, she sticks her O brand on anything she touches, even the kids at her school have to wear a O on their uniform.

    2. she owns 8 homes the last one cost 35 million dollars.. I understand investments but with that kind of money she could have built a city in Africa to help young people not just girls.

    3. she threw down the race card when a store wouldn't open for her because she wanted to buy a bunch of 17 thousand dollar purses, the store was closed for employee appreciation.

    4. as she has strayed into new-age spiritualism and, perhaps more dangerously, politics she attacked a woman for believing in Jesus on her show.. what happened to tolerance?

    5. she used to listen to people, now she talks at them - she believes her own press and believes herself to be devine.
    What?! I thought she believed in Jesus too. How intolerant of her to attack someone on her show for having a different belief.
    Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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    Oh jeeez only 11 million viewers a week? What a failure!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    I think my skepticism regarding Oprah having an issue with her thyroid is that she's porked back up again. I figure she's got the best doctors, so if thyroid is the problem, why can't they control it? I don't know, I may not be seeing this fairly or correctly.
    I have a friend who keeps switching between hyper and hypothyroid issues. It's really hard for her doctors to get under control and keep under control so she'll yoyo like crazy. They'll get her on new meds, she'll stabilize, and then it'll switch over and she'll gain or lose a ton of weight at once til they get her on the right meds again. Its really frustrating for her, and I hate Oprah, but it's possible her problem is a bit more complex than a straight thyroid problem.

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