The Oprah Winfrey Show” scored its best ratings of the season on Wednesday, when the TV host was finally able to celebrate her support for Barack Obama and his historic election victory the night before.
The live broadcast – featuring political figures John Lewis, Gloria Steinem, David Gergen, Peggy Noonan and Henry Louis Gates – averaged a 6.5 household rating, according to Nielsen metered markets, her best rating in some nine months. Among women 25-54, the show averaged a 3.6 rating, its best since February.
Although Winfrey’s support of Obama was well known, she has made a point not to use her show to promote any candidate during the long presidential campaign. “Today, though, the election is over, and I’m unleashed!” Winfrey said to her Wednesday audience.
Meanwhile, there is talk that Winfrey has already decided not to renew her contract to extend “The Oprah Winfrey Show” beyond 2011.
During a morning conference call on Friday, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said Winfrey will shutter the talk show in 2011 to focus on OWN, the eponymous cable network that Winfrey and Discovery will launch as partners next year.
By early afternoon, however, Winfrey’s Harpo Prods.’ spokeswoman Lisa Halliday, clarified that no formal decision has been made about the show’s long-term future.
“While David Zaslav’s comments are true that Oprah’s current contract to produce ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ will expire in 2011, she has not made a final decision as to whether she will continue her show in syndication beyond that,” Halliday told Variety.
A spokesperson for CBS Television Distribution, which distributes “Oprah Winfrey,” was also quick to weigh in.
“We are thrilled that ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ will continue production through the 2010 – 2011 season, its 25th year on the air….We would certainly welcome and hope that ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ would continue in syndication beyond that, but that is a decision only Ms. Winfrey will be making.”