Oprah sees ratings slide
But new season sees chat show queen fights back, with an exclusive interview with Whitney Houston
Is the 'age of Oprah' finally over? The once invincible US chat show queen's ratings have fallen to a record low after 25 years of broadcasting, leading at least one American media commentator to suggest that Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of President Obama has alienated her core viewers.
In the 2008/09 season, the average audience for The Oprah Winfrey Show had slipped from a peak of nine milllion in 2005 to just seven million. Year on year, the audience has dropped for four straight years. In one particular week this July, the show had its worst ratings since it first aired in 1985.
Winfrey remains America's leading chat show host, with two million more viewers than clinical psychologist Dr Phil, but the ratings drop-off appears to show that her aura of invincibility has slipped. Janice Peck, a University of Colorado media professor, argues that Winfrey has alienated some of her predominantly white, female, middle-class audience by endorsing Obama and campaigning for him.
Oprah's wealth and constantly upbeat attitude may also be putting off fans in the midst of the recession, Peck said. At 55, her age could be beginning to count against her. Peck said that many of students see Oprah as a figure belonging to their mothers' generation, not theirs. "This is not a good sign for hers," she said.
As her 24th season started yesterday, Winfrey appeared to be fighting back with a starry line-up including an exclusive interview with singer Whitney Houston and a Chicago 'block party' with the Black Eyes Peas.
Houston revealed to Winfrey on Monday that her mother, Cissy Houston, saved her from drug addiction by forcing her into rehab. The 46-year-old singer also admitted smoking crack cocaine something she denied in a 2002 interview - saying that "crack is wack". ·
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