Oprah's Interviews With The Late Whitney Houston's Loved Ones Gives OWN Its Highest Ratings Ever

Oprah Winfrey has managed to turn the tragedy of Whitney Houston's passing into a ratings triumph for OWN, her struggling cable network. Winfrey's special Oprah's Next Chapter interviews with the late Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown and the icon's brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Pat Houston, brought 3.5 million viewers to OWN Sunday night.

The 90-minute episode, taped in Houston's adopted hometown of Atlanta, GA, netted OWN a 3.1 among women 25-54. During the interview, Brown revealed how she still talks to her mother and plans to follow in her footsteps, via a career in the entertainment industry; while Pat Houston all but admitted her sister-in-law's relationship with much younger R&B singer/reality star Ray J had the legendary diva "looking for love in all the wrong places," during her last days. Did you watch Oprah's interview with the Houston family? If so, tell us what you thought about the special in the comments!


david46208's picture
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@Jamey: While Oprah does not want OWN to be seen as a black network, between Sweetie Pie and this interview...I see a trend toward black people bringing in the ratings for the network. Maybe Oprah should slowly move toward making OWN what BET was supposed to be. Just a thought there. The numbers don't lie.

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@David, I believe she will have no other choice. Discovery has sunk a ton of money into this bad boy, er girl, so The Mighty O's programmers better do something!

SoapArmageddon's picture
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The special was done very tastefully, as I expected. At no point did I feel that Oprah was exploiting the grief of this family or trying to get them to break down on camera. That's Barbara Walters' style, not Oprah's.

David, I tend to agree with your view on niche-marketing. However, there are many African-Americans who have their own "issues" with Oprah. Some people feel that she sold us out for a broader audience. Coincidentally, that's also the way many people felt about Whitney Houston. I keep recalling how Whitney got booed back in the early nineties at either the Soul Train or BET awards. I forget which one it was.

jetty's picture
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It's nothing to get terrific ratings for one special. She needs to work on consistent ratings and shows that people actually want to watch, while keeping some dignity in there so it doesn't sink into a bunch of trashy reality shows. I think Oprah is so removed form real life that she really has no idea what would entertain (and inform) people.

blake3b's picture
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It was very smart of her to do this, all of us what to know more about what happened before her death and ever since. And thankfully the family trusts her. It was a very good interview, and with ratings like this I'm sure she's going to find other ways of doing it.

Llanview76's picture
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jetty wrote:
I think Oprah is so removed form real life that she really has no idea what would entertain (and inform) people.

Totally agree Jetty. She hasn't been the same since the late 90's. She used to be about people, the average person and their problems. She was sincere, articulate - she had a wonderful talk show. Then her show developed an emphasis on celebrity and Christmas give aways to an audience who seemed like they had enough as it is.


miztee246's picture
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Although my heart goes out to Whitney's family, I watched the special out of curiosity. As I suspected, it was disappointing. It was disappointing to see Patricia Houston hailed (in Oprah's intro) as a close confidante of Whitney Houston. It incensed me to hear Pat reveal things about the now-dead Whitney that simply should not have been revealed. Just call me a sucker for family loyalty--I perceived much of Pat's commentary as uncomplimentary and disloyal to Whitney's memory.

It appears that Whitney provided a source of income to her family and her in-laws, Pat, Pat's brother, and I am sure many others. The very least that Pat could have done was protect Whitney's privacy even in death.

I disagree with Pat's response to Oprah's stupid question. What do you hate more--that the photo of Whitney was taken, or that it was printed in a tabloid? If the Houston family had wanted a public viewing, they would have scheduled one. The most hateful aspect of that scenario is that a friend or family member sold the photo for his/her monetary gain. The tabloid's publisher wanted to sell more copies. Just like Oprah wants to increase viewership for OWN.

Oprah managed to beat out other interviewers. Airing this special one month-to-the-day after Whitney's untimely passing says that Oprah started working on it before Whitney was in the ground. She must have approached the family and scheduled those interviews soon after the funeral. All much too soon for a still-grieving family. Commercials began running during the first week of March -- this was merely an opportunity to boost OWN's ratings. This one shot will not seal the deal for OWN.

MsAgentProvocateur1's picture
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SoapArmageddon wrote:
I keep recalling how Whitney got booed back in the early nineties at either the Soul Train or BET awards. I forget which one it was.

She was booed at The Soul Train Music Awards (I don't think the BET Awards were around yet at that time). In fact, speak of coincidences, she mentioned years ago, that very same night she was booed she made the acquaintance of one Bobby Brown! She mentioned how she was captivated by his performance and the way he appeared to enthrall the Soul Train Awards audience, something she would liked to have done. I don't know, perhaps the jeering made her vulnerable to Bobby Brown?

thecourt99's picture
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I saw the special and I saw that it was tastefully done. Oprah made sure that many questions were answered, but in all, allowed the family to speak for themselves about all of the stories out there about Whitney.

I do think that there were some comments that should not have been made by Pat, especially as it relates to Ray J. I do think that Oprah's question about the casket photos were fair, especially due to the fact that reports say that the family knows who sold the pictures, and aren't blaming them.

As far as timing, I don't think this is a case of Oprah drawing first blood, or that she began working on it before Whitney was in the ground. Oprah was chosen because she had always treated Whitney with respect during her lifetime. I believe that Bobbi Kristina made a statement to this effect.

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Why would there be a problem with Pat being hailed as a close confidante? Isn't that exactly what she was?

I think that the interview was conducted very well and with much taste. She didn't sit Bobbi Kristina down and make her relive horrible events, she gave her a chance to speak freely about her Mom. Bobbi Kristina seemed to appreciate the opportunity to tell the world about the person SHE knew as a mother, but that we can only speculate about.

I'm so sick of people saying that the family should have waited to talk. How about this: When someone YOU love dies and the world prints rumors and lies about them, then YOU wait a year or two to correct them, but don't blame these people for doing what THEY wanted to do on thier own time. People act like Oprah waterboarded them until they gave in to an interview. Gimme a break.