So Lance, you're a fallen American icon seeking some damage control and a way to rebuild your brand. But you have some harsh realities to face. You've been branded a cheat by most of the public. You need some soft focus and a gentle hand, hoping that the public can see you as a sympathetic survivor. Obviously, television is the place to go to reach the masses, once and for all.
But cable? Seriously? It's almost as if you wanted to keep people from seeing you talk about this.
Was that it? Was it that you weren't looking for a big audience for this? Perhaps you just wanted the "admission" to come and go as quickly as possible. Painlessly.
So you open yourself up to Oprah. But as she'll tell you, cable isn't where you find big audiences.
Maybe nobody mentioned to you that Oprah is no longer the owner of the All-Powerful Couch of Public Redemption she once was. And apparently, even the blockbuster combination of "Oprah and Lance" wasn't enough to bring viewers to cable. If you were looking to change as many of their minds as possible, cable TV was a mistake. Even in the inevitable Saturday Night Live skit, their "Lance Armstrong" "apologized to all the viewers out there who couldn't find OWN on their television sets."
So instead of clearing the air before 13 million viewers on 60 Minutes, or even finding yourself that potential "soft focus" by talking to Barbara Walters –her last "Most Fascinating" special was seen by over 7 million viewers - you comfortably sat across from Oprah Winfrey where you were seen by just over 3 million.
Your bombshell mea culpa held so much national interest that an episode of Moonshiners on Discovery had a higher A25-54 rating that week. Comparing your appearance to broadcast would be even less fair than your competing against all of those other unwitting cyclists.
Forget comparing your chat to the top-rated shows on TV, like the 16 million plus A25-54 delivered by NCIS or an episode of Bones that pulled in over 8 million total viewers.
Instead, let's compare it to the early results of another "big get" appearance of an athlete caught up in the national spotlight – Katie Couric's interview with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, he of "not ACTUALLY dead, due to being nonexistent" girlfriend hoax fame. Early results indicate that in many of the Top 25 markets, Katie's interview with Manti in Daytime beat Oprah's Primetime interview with Lance.
Face it, Lance. You weren't in the race. This "Very Special Episode" of Oprah's Next Chapter didn't even make the top 100 shows in total viewers for the week. It finished at #134. For the first time in a long time, you finished well behind the pack.
Turns out, if you indeed did participate in a conspiracy of blood doping and performance enhancing, your careful science didn't translate into audience enhancing. In order to sneak your confession past so many potential witnesses without getting caught, you may have found your loophole - just appear on cable, where no one will ever be able to say that the audiences deliveries are on steroids.
Don Seaman joined the TVB in January 2012 as Manager of Marketing Communications, where he is responsible for promoting and raising awareness of the TVB, and of Local Broadcast Television’s value propositions within the traditional and digital media industries. Don can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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