The Saturday night lineup of "Welcome to Sweety Pie's," about former Ike and Tina Turner backup singer Robbie Montgomery's soul food restaurant that she operates with her family, and "Iyanla: Fix My Life," an advice show with inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant, represent the most successful non-Oprah shows. Another new program, "Six Little McGhees, which follows the life of an Ohio couple with sextuplets, is also on the Saturday lineup.
The shows have drawn an audience of African-American women put off by more youth-focused programming on networks like BET. OWN's audience is roughly one-third black.
OWN recently reached a deal to develop scripted programming with Tyler Perry, the creative force behind movies like "Madea's Family Reunion" and the TBS series "Tyler Perry's House of Payne."
Winfrey was known for attracting stars and confessions on her syndicated show — remember Tom Cruise's couch jump? And even before landing the Armstrong interview, Winfrey has delivered the goods as an interviewer on her Sunday night show, "Oprah's Next Chapter."
Her talk with David Letterman that aired earlier this month was one of the most remarkable interviews the reticent CBS host has ever given. Last year's interview with Whitney Houston's family shortly after the singer's death reached just under 3.5 million viewers, OWN's biggest audience yet. Other high-rated episodes of "Oprah's Next Chapter" featured Rihanna, Usher, Pastor Joel Osteen, the Kardashians and Steven Tyler.
The Armstrong interview aired before the usual Sunday night time slot partly because it was considered newsworthy enough to rush, but also because Winfrey had scheduled and promoted a talk with Drew Barrymore for Sunday.
Considering many viewers still have to search to find the network on their cable system, that's a particularly strong lineup for OWN. She's more competitive with the much bigger broadcast networks than could have rightly been considered.
The impact of the Armstrong interview won't be known for a while, Logan said. Winfrey has called it the biggest interview of her career and it has already drawn more attention to OWN's content than anything else so far. Removing the stench of failure in itself would be a big step.
The interview could also help OWN reach the 20 million or so cable and satellite subscribers across the country that currently don't have it on their systems, Adgate said.
"They'll be calling their cable operators and saying, 'How come I'm not getting this?'" he said.
Television Writer Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report.
EDITOR'S NOTE — David Bauder can be reached at dbauder"at"ap.org or on Twitter (at)dbauder.