Today is the day that long time viewers and followers of the daytime landscape have known about for over a year and a half…. the end of The Oprah Winfrey Show! After 25 seasons, Oprah is bowing out with her very special finale episode this afternoon. Make sure to check times in your local areas, so you don’t miss it. This morning on GMA and through multiple reports, they are hearing that it is just Oprah herself in the final episode with an invited studio audience at Harpo Studios, who had never had the chance to be at an Oprah taping.
After seven Daytime Emmy Awards as Outstanding Talk Show Host, and we are not even talking about the myriad of awards for her show itself, Oprah eventually decided to pull her name out of the Daytime Emmy race several years ago. The emotional farewell promo that has been running for the last two weeks uses comparisons to other television greats and series final episodes from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, MASH and Johnny Carson. Advertisers are paying over 1 million dollars for a thirty second spot on the Oprah finale, and early predictions are in that that this would be the most highly watched show in daytime history.
USA today took a look at where the daytime landscape is going now with Oprah’s exit, and the upcoming exits of the beloved soaps, All My Children in September and One Life to Live by January 2012. “It’s a jump ball for everybody,” says Oz executive producer Mindy Borman. And it all adds up to a “major disruption” that will leave daytime devotees scrambling for alternatives, says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions. “There’s really never been this kind of sea change in daytime. There’s never been this many changes in stalwart hosts with this much audience appeal.” Viewers won’t “abandon TV, but what will they watch?”
ABC Daytime President, Brian Frons spoke to his decision to cancel AMC and OLTL in favor of reality and cheaper to produce programming in the changing times. “It’s change that’s generational. Serials for the most part are Baby Boomer programs, and as Boomers age out of the key selling demographic, we need to look at alternatives. Younger viewers are “looking for an upbeat tone, they want entertaining relevance, more talk and reality than scripted drama. They’re looking to us for shows that help improve their lives, rather than escape from their lives.”
However, Stephanie Sloane, editorial director for Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly noted, “the kind of escapism and romance these shows ( the soaps) offer will always be appealing to a group of people. At the end of this decade, if we’re still talking about daytime soaps as regular programming, I’d be happily surprised.”
In the end analysis, today is about Oprah, and many commented on her success and what she did for 25 years in the programming day-part. Oprah was the quintessential news lead-in,” says Emerson Coleman, programming chief at Hearst Television, a major station owner. Her show “impacted your 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts like no other show in television. That’s why stations paid a premium.” The theory: “If the audience trusted me, they will trust the news broadcast that comes after me. She underscored the fact that a television personality could make a difference in the way we approach issues,” Carroll says. “She raised the level of conversation at a time when elsewhere on television the conversation was becoming more strident.” Talk show host, Maury Povich said, “Oprah’s unveiling of her personal life attracted a huge audience, and that was the key to her stardom.”
Watch The Oprah Winfrey Show farewell promo below one more time, and let us know what you thought of today’s final episode!