Lance Armstrong said it was just last month when he finally got up the courage to tell his own 13-year-old son that his dad cheated to win all of those international cycling championships.
He finally told the boy, Luke, because he heard Luke was steadfastly defending him when classmates would say his father was a cheater.
The story of how he told his children about using performance-enhancing substances to compete in the Tour de France (and winning seven in a row) was just one of the areas Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey explored in Night Two of their interview on OWN Friday night.
The hour-long show — coming one night after the 90-minute Part One — disspelled any concern viewers may have had that all the important stuff had been covered more than adequately on Night One.
And while that was true in at least one respect — Armstrong’s flat-out admissions at the outset of Thursday’s show that he used an array of performance-enhancing substances to win the Tour de France — there was still plenty left to cover on Night Two.
In fact, on Night Two, the moment when Armstrong told the story of how he broke the news to his son was one of the most emotional moments of the entire interview.
As difficult as that may have been for Armstrong, he told Oprah that the most humbling moment he had during his whole experience was when he had to step down as head of his LiveStrong Foundation last November.
Armstrong told Oprah that, not only is he banned from cycling competitions, but he’s also barred from virtually any “sanctioned” athletic competition, including marathons and other long-distance running races that he says he wouldn’t mind competing in as he grows older. And believe it or not, he told Oprah that, despite his admissions of cheating, he hopes some of the bans will be reversed with the passage of time. He told her he “deserves” that consideration because, to him, his punishment is far more harsh than the penalties levied on other athletes who have also admitted they cheated.
And so, the story of Oprah Winfrey’s big “get” runs its course. It made news around the world and generated headlines for several days. But in spite of all the attention, we were thunderstruck by the relatively low viewership this show attracted.
We have not yet received any numbers for Friday’s Part Two, but Part One on Thursday night drew only 3.2 million viewers from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (8-9:30c). A 90-minute rebroadcast of the show, directly following the first airing, drew an additional 1.1 million viewers.
For OWN, they were among the highest numbers the network has seen in its short history. But still … this interview was publicized and built up to a fever pitch in the days preceding it. And yet, 3.2 million viewers is all it got? Oprah must be asking herself: What more she could have done to procure, produce and promote this thing?
In our view, she did everything by the book — with the exception of one thing: She aired Armstrong’s admissions right at the very outset of the 90-minute show on Thursday. And while we praised her on Friday for not keeping us viewers in suspense by holding the admissions until much later in the broadcast, the result may have been that many tuned out after that — which means they didn’t stick around long enough to be counted by Nielsen.
Another thing we picked up in some of the coverage of the interview we’ve been reading: Many people are still having trouble finding OWN on their cable lineups. Maybe that was a factor too.