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Lance Armstrong delivers 4.3 million viewers for Oprah

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Oprah Winfrey’s exclusive interview with Lance Armstrong delivered extremely strong ratings for her cable network OWN, but they weren’t quite high enough to set a new single telecast viewership record.

The Oprah’s Next Chapter special “Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive Part 1” delivered 3.2 million viewers for its 9 p.m. premiere last night. A repeat of the episode at 10:30 p.m. scored an additional 1.1 million viewers. All told, 4.3 million watched the fallen champion’s doping confession. The interview was also streamed live on Oprah.com.

By comparison, Winfrey’s interview with Whitney Houston’s surviving family members last March delivered 3.5 million for its Sunday night premiere telecast (compared to 3.2 for Armstrong).

OWN had high hopes that the scoop would help the network break through to a new level. Still, the numbers are strong enough to give OWN its highest-rated weekday telecast in the network’s history across key demos. Part 2 of the interview airs tonight on OWN.