Question of the Day: Why Are Oprah’s Ratings Down?

The Queen of Day Time Talk has taken some hits lately on everything from her school in South Africa to her weight to her endorsement of President Obama in 2008 to her love for all things “New Age-y,” but the latest trend in THE END OF OPRAH meme involves her ratings, which have slid by seven percent this year.

More after the jump.

From NY Times’ Media Decoder blog:

The Associated Press reported yesterday that the ratings for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” were down 7 percent last year, understandable against a backdrop of atomizing audiences, but not something you tend to hear about the invincible Ms. Winfrey. The A.P. points out that other daytimers like Jerry Springer and Martha Stewart are down double digits, which is a little hard to figure given that so many Americans are stuck at home on their couch without a job. But Ms. Winfrey has always managed to defy larger trends, so she is opening her 24th season with a Whitney Houston exclusive and a return of Dr. Phil after seven years. Still, she may be up against some self-created turbulence, according to the A.P.

From the Associated Press:

By endorsing Barack Obama and campaigning for him, she shucked her apolitical image. Winfrey’s book club selection of Eckhart Tolle’s New Age religion book ”A New Earth” angered some conservative Christians — even though Winfrey’s producer said Winfrey was careful not to push Tolle’s views on viewers through the television show.”

But is Oprah really paying a price for supporting Barack Obama for prez OR is this just part of the natural waning cycle for a show that has been on the air since I was in elementary school? TV By the Numbers shot the Oprah’s decline due to politics, controversies theory in the foot by pointing out that all daytime shows are down, many in the double-digits and that they couldn’t find any conclusive evidence that Oprah’s political views caused it.

(W)henever we looked at it, we couldn’t come up with anything to actually support the case.  At least unless we could somehow attribute decreases with Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune to Oprah’s endorsement of Obama too.

It’s true that some of Oprah’s audience was offended by her endorsement of Obama, but it’s also true that people are ALWAYS trying to predict the demise of Oprah. It’s practically a sport for some people. But no matter what the prognosticators say, Oprah Winfrey has remained successful, adaptable and resilient. Love her or hate her, Oprah doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and if she invited me or any other blogger/writer/author on the show tomorrow we would break our necks and knock down our own mamas to get some of that Oprah seal of approval.

But what do you think? Did Oprah’s politics hurt her or is the media making much ado about nothing?

Side note: With unemployment up you’d think MORE people would be watching daytime TV, but considering how their homes keep getting foreclosed on … maybe not.

42 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Why Are Oprah’s Ratings Down?

  1. Maybe people are just getting tired of TV all together… Maybe people can’t afford cable…. Maybe they are blogging on line and watching shows online???? any data on how often these shows are watched online? I watch over half of all my "TV" on line and I spend a lot more time online watching non-TV programing on line.. I mean there are only so many hours in the day.

  2. Because Oprah has always been a "Good Nigger". With her overwhelming support of Presisdent Obama, the racists that had supported her proir cannot abide by her overt behavior. They now support "The View" with their little devil incarnate, Elizabeth Hasselback, spitting out propaganda and babies. That wasn’t nice was it?

  3. I don’t think politics have anything to do with her ratings. It’s just the natural ebb and flow of TV-dom. I have found the topics on Oprah a bit boring this past year and gee whiz, why is she shoving Dr. Oz and that decorator guy down on throat. BORING!

  4. I don’t think much of this debate. I think people are waiting for her to fall so any slight indication of it makes them excited. But I also I see Serenity’s point. Oprah’s always been ‘safe’, now some people are starting to re-think that notion.

  5. Two things had me flipping Ms. Oprah to OFF: The new age-y Eckhart Tolle discover your inner "chi" vibe she started rocking. Second was that the show was more and more about Oprah and her wonderful life. Specifically I recall her doing a show on parenting and in the middle of one young mother’s revelation, she said – Yes, I do that with my dogs all the time. There was an audible (and awkward pause) which she missed as she launched into the story about her dogs. But everyone else was thinking, did she just compare child-rearing to owning pets?! It was symptomatic of a larger issue. On a related note, I watched part one of the Whitney chat, riveting stuff even if I don’t 100% buy what Whitney is selling.

  6. I like most of Oprah’s shows, however the new age programming is just getting kind of boring. The only other reason I could think that people may not be watching her show is because she may not always be able to relate w/ the lives of her viewers. Sometimes when she does episodes about affordable fashion or affordable anything it never resonates with me…I’m sorry, but I don’t consider spending $120 on a pair of jeans affordable at all. But maybe that’s just me.

  7. I stopped watching Oprah a long time ago because she stopped knowing how to relate to Black women in general.

  8. I haven’t watched Oprah in years, dare I say in over a decade. No, I don’t think her Obama support affected her ratings overall. I think she’s losing (or has lost) her ability to relate to regular people. Plus, she’s got her hands in everything so she’s everywhere and she’s got her friends (Gayle, Phil, that chef, etc.) everywhere. I remember listening to her on her XM station when she had a dream interpreter as a guest. She told the person about her dream of building the African school and the girls who were summoning her in her dream. She then began to interpret what it meant without any input from her guest. When the guest was able to chime in, he was like, um, no lady O, you’re dream didn’t really signify what you think it signifies. But being the big O she insisted that it did. It was a little irritating b/c there was no need to even have a guest if you don’t let them speak.

  9. I think that Oprah ratings have dropped because it is the natural waning cycle. Oprah is not perfect she can be a little bossy among other things but I will always watch her and respect her. She has done some amazing things for people and to be as successful as she is coming from her background is admirable. I liked the Eckhart Tolle book. It may sound corny to some but I look at life in a whole new way after reading that book. It’s a really good read. I agree with the snob Oprah is going no where.

  10. I think pretty much everyone hit it on the head why Oprah is slowly declining.1) Her show is 24 years old. It’s coming to the end of its relevance and she’s pretty much covered every subject evar!2) She is no longer apolitical. She supported Obama and then saw some of her numbers shift. Many white women were angry because she didn’t suport Hillary. 3) Her show is boring. The highlights now about her show are the Oprah’s fave shows and the interview she just did with Whitney. I mean really, this show isn’t interesting. Oh the other one that was interesting was when she had the doctor on there talking about explaining sexuality to teens. That was interesting but she has no shock value, she pretty much caters to upper middle class folks and her interviewing style is no longer fascinating. But the reality is that ain’t no one getting rid of Oprah but Oprah. If she didn’t take herself out of the Daytime Emmy awards she would still win. What I hope is that in her last seasons she starts getting madd controversial…doing some, "you are not the baby’s father" type stuff! *lol* J/K

  11. 1. Oprah has been around forever. People may just be tired of watching her.2. People are using the internet more than ever – might be catching her info online on her website or other sites instead of on tv.3. Main reason I don’t watch her as much any more is because she interrupts people so much when she interviews them that it is beyond rude. She rarely lets people finish their thoughts before she jumps in with her opinion on the topic.

  12. This is pretty much a non-story. Everyone ratings ared down. Its down in the single digits while everyone else is in the double digits. and yea its true some people who didn’t like the fact that she became unsafe and endorsed Obama might have stop watching but much of its ado about nothing imo.

  13. Growing up in Chicago, I remember Oprah before she even had her own show…it was AM Chicago or something like that. Anyway after 24 years frankly I think she is boring, I have not watched her with any regularity since the mid 1990’s, Whenever I have turned her on in the past few years, frankly she is boring and like others have stated I feel like she has lost her ability to relate to regular folks…we know she rarely relates to Black folks. I’d almost whether watch Dr Phil over her and I really don’t care for him either. Nah, after 24 years maybe its time to retire.

  14. In the last 12months, the 401K tanked, the stock portfolio is worthless, Billy started college, Dad got furloughed by the state, the mortgage arm adjusted, and Suzy moved back in with her family after the plant shut down.Who has time for Oprah?!Mom had to go back to work

  15. Oprah goes overboard with the new age crap especially when it’s obvious that she doesn’t live her life that way. She is huge and still obviously has lots of issues. She also caters to the suburban white woman too much. But she knows where the money is. She can’t ride on top forever. Ellen and Tyra are good shows too, so they need their time.

  16. I have never watched Oprah on a regular basis. She needs to have someone on her show that I’d like to see give and interview. Otherwise I don’t tune in. I suspect that there are people who may just not be interested in what she is.

  17. "She also caters to the suburban white woman too much."Shukura, I agree. Oprah also doesn’t do much for younger female (under 35) demographic.

  18. A Black woman with no husbandand kids can’t teach Black people nothing. When will you people ever learn! Her ratings are dropping because advertisers are obviously playing with her numbers. America feels she started this stuff with Obama and now she’s feeling the repercussions from her sponsors. She is not the example of a successful Black woman that I want my daughter looking up to. Money ain’t everything, people!

  19. I prefer her magazine to her show, which is beyond boring; it’s difficult for me to sit for an hour and listen to a know-it-all. Her magazine has good writers, although her so-called shopping bargains are probably targeted to women in her income bracket. I, too, do not think that a pair of $120 jeans is a bargain – I’m trying to find an entire outfit for that much!

  20. "A Black woman with no husbandand kids can’t teach Black people nothing".Spoken like someone with a very high IQ. Good job.

  21. This is interesting. I read this last night @ 11:00pm, after I got home from work, and I was too tired to comment. I’d had a conversation less than an hour before with a co-worker who does Shamanic Reiki. She’d said to me, "What’s been holding you back?" (regarding my upcoming book release) I replied, "I’ve been too concerned about what other people will say. But I’m done with that." That is why I am not posting anonymously, like I usually do.I know the New-Agey comments were not directed at me, they are directed at Oprah. But being someone who quit corporate America nine years to teach yoga, I guess I qualify as being in the New Age crowd. I chucked all three of my college degrees to pursue something I loved, and happy that I did.I like Oprah’s show. I watch it everyday. I have no idea why her ratings are down. The 08-09 season was great. She did lots of shows about the recession, and it’s impact on regular folk. The best show of the season, IMO, was one in early June about what people are doing to help others in need. And this season’s opener with The Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Hudson, James Taylor, and Rascal Flatts was great fun to watch. I dig Oprah, and wish her all the best.Althea Hughes Willsauthor of Mocha Angels: 365 Days of Angelic Wisdom and

  22. @Ace "A Black woman with no husband and kids can’t teach Black people nothing". That comments is ridiculous. Studies are showing that the not married no children black female will be the most common situation for educated black women. I am surprised that because you disapprove of her relationship status and lack of children that she is a horrible role model. She is the most successful Black woman in the world but somehow she is still not someone to look up to. She is also in a domestic partnership so just because she isn’t married doesn’t mean that she is not in a meaningful relationship. I guess if she got knocked up at 50+ years old now she would satisfy your standard. So ridiculous. Folks can really spit some crazy stuff.

  23. I read the first few lines of this story and thought to myself…The reason why people are not watching much TV has nothing to do with them being out of work, but it has a lot to do with the fact that a lot of people (myself included) have "gone off" watching TV altogether, and I see that your first respondent, Cathy already made that very valid point. It’s not Oprah per se, it is just that a lot of people feel that they can do more and achieve more in their life doing things and improving self by cutting down on TV in general. I was saying this just yesterday on another blog.I watch TV to keep up on current affairs and to see what is happening in the world, but I will not watch a lot of the other rubbish on TV. I actually like Oprah and used to watch her show on TV since I was aged 13, I am in my thirties now. Back then we used to watch Oprah for her inspirational show and the fact that she was one of very few female and Black talk show presenters on television. However, I think her show has changed a lot since I started watching it so many years ago.But generally, I do not have much time to watch TV.

  24. @Ace I’m a married black woman with a kid and I have a loving word of advice to you; the sooner you drop the "crabs in a barrel" mentality, the better chance your kid will have by avoiding a life FILLED with personality baggage that you’re gonna cause with that type of thinking. As for Oprah, I look up to her as a business woman,,,,I may think of her show as a hit/miss, but thats neither here nor there. The fact is, she STILL matters and she managed to build a demographic group that will follow her if she decided to move to other venues,,,,,,a career driven person like her wouldn’t think of the inevitable that will happen to her show eventually, and If it will happen,,,,I’m pretty sure she has a plan in store.Now, WHY it has been declining? I think it has already been established that she lacked the edge that she once possessed. People want to sit on the edge of their seats, I don’t buy the "catering to upper middle class" factor, her once-rival Phil Donahue’s show was directed mainly to WHITE upper middle class audience but it remained to stirr controversy from the subjects/guests that appeared in it.Yes, people want to be enlightened,,,,but they also gotta be uncomfortable in the process to pay attention(and as ironic as it seem, to be entertained). We live in a society that suffers from the shortest attention spam,,,,,our idea of entertainment is mindless shock value. Don’t believe me? What were everybody have been talking about in the past few days? Surely not the health care dilemma,,,,,so, its no wonder why shows like Oprah’s are suffering.

  25. I also sensed a New Age bias at this post. Please, people, have a little respect for beliefs different from your own.

  26. All those who are "not" married and watch Oprah, obviously would be offended. You may not like "how’ I say stuff, but the "truth’ is the truth. Take that "strong black women" crap back to the 90’s. That’s why we have so many lesbians and young Black males in jail today due to this "I don’t need a Black man crap". Well, your sons in prison perhaps show something different. I love my people, but I just got to tell the truth. I ain’t Oprah, say what make you feel good, I’m Ace – "I tell you what you need to hear". Stop listeningto Oprah and white America on how to solve Black people’s problems. And stop with the "I’m so educated" crap, people.

  27. Isn’t she the same lady who told all of you guys to go out and vote for Obama in the first place? "Stop listening to Oprah and white America on how to solve Black people’s problems". You ain’t got no husband nor kids, you can’t tell me jack, ’cause you haven’t live. Maybe according to… But not by my Bible.

  28. @ Ace, So you prefer Black people not be educated? Having an education is something to be happy about. Nowadays, if you have an education you are supposed to crawl under a rock and hide just because some people who are too dumb to get an education don’t like it. Isn’t Envy one of the seven deadly sins?Additionally, shouldn’t we as Black people get out there and start building our own businesses and working to build up our own communities. I often find that with some people it is easier to blame everybody else and make excuses.Let’s get ou there and build our own. Yes, complaining is good as it helps you to get things off your chest, however, that never solves the problem in the long-term now does it?

  29. Additionally, if Oprah endorsed Obama so what? If someone told you to jump off a cliff would you do it? I am sure that there are still people out there with their own mind and their own initiative who are clever enough to think for themselves.

  30. there used to be a website but it was banned. the power of the audience of white women has waned when it became apparent that oprah is a racist and supported black male obama rather than white female hillary.i have commented/warned many times that blacks are very racist. the black on white violence is concealed by the media, reverse discrimination is allowed, quota systems, all add up to black racism. oprah supported obama and recall how obama accused the white police officer who arrested the black harvard professor of racism. you have to understand that blacks all stick together. they despise whites and come from the muslim/african roots.look, a recent rasmussen poll, demonstrates how obama’s popularity has fallen with everybody but blacks. the majority of blacks support obama because they are racist there is no arguing about it it is true. if whites ignore this truth then it will be planet of the apes.let me ask are there any whites that have attended a mostly black public school? it is the whites that have lived in a black world that know the truth is not pc lies.blacks hate whites and want to take over. they are doing it. there is now a black racist president who is supported by a rich and powerful black media mogul (oprah) with nearly 90% of all blacks supporting him. obviously racism.and what of holder’s recrimination to whites that they need too open their private lives to blacks, ad nauseum?there is not room here to write a book, but this would make great material for a best seller.for now they way to fight this scourge is toEND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION NOW!!!Yes end the racist quota system. Do you want a racist black surgeon who got into medical school, regardless of bad grades, and passed all because of racist profiling and affirmative action? This will be forced upon the whites by the obamacare tragedy.END AFFIRMATIVE ACTION NOW!!!

  31. To ihateoprahGo fuck yourself stupid ass troll and go back to hiding under your bridge with the billy goats. I agree with the commenter who said Oprah is a ‘house negro’ and caters to her suburban soccer mom audience WAY too much and plus that show has such a creepy cult vibe to it now’. It seems like the only thing missing is a church altar and big neon signs screaming ‘Oprah’ to be followed by the move to a small South American jungle and a big vat of Kool-Aid.

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