Lance Armstrong’s highly-anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey on her cable network OWN is expected to make a pretty penny.
Reuters reports that OWN is close to selling out of advertising time at premium prices, according to a senior network executive. OWN is expected to sell all the remaining commercial time for the two-part interview on Oprah’s Next Chapter.
“We are seeing a great demand in the marketplace,” says OWN President Erik Logan in an interview on Tuesday.
The network originally planned to have one episode for the former cyclist’s interview; however, Winfrey talked to Armstrong for two hours, prompting producers to air an additional episode on Friday.
According to an insider, Lance Armstrong has already confessed in the interview with Winfrey to the doping allegations.
This is Armstrong’s first on-camera interview since his allegations of running an extensive doping operation for a large portion of his cycling career, including winning seven Tour de France titles. The interview has generated a great deal of buzz for OWN, even after the network launched with dismal ratings in 2011.
It wasn’t until Oprah introduced Oprah’s Next Chapter, a series where the media icon interviews big-name celebrities and news-makers that her network’s ratings began to grow.
In 2012, OWN’s prime-time ratings rose 32 percent over the previous year among its target audience of women aged 25 to 54, according to data from the network. According to Nielsen data, OWN averaged 147,000 viewers aged 25 to 54 during prime-time.
Current and new sponsors have already secured ad time during the telecast, but the remaining commercial time will be sold in a “scatter” market right until the interview’s air date. These last-minute ads will be sold at more expensive prices than the pre-sold rates. Some of OWN sponsors include companies such as General Motors Co, Target Corp, and Kellogg Co.
“Thanks to growing interest in Armstrong’s comments, OWN is securing a premium over the usual scatter rates for “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” Logan added. “The network is giving priority to advertisers who have bought time on the show in the past and those that will also commit to other shows.”
And industry leaders agree that Armstrong’s interview with the television mogul will garner more publicity for the budding network.
“The Armstrong interview will generate high ratings and help build buzz for the network,” said David Johnson, CEO of public relations firm Strategic Vision to the Huffington Post. “People will be talking about it…It will raise public awareness and create public curiosity about the network, even if it’s a one-time deal.”
Follow Brittany Tom on Twitter @brittanyrtom