Oprah Winfrey’s new cable network is off to booming start. The network made a splash over the holiday weekend, reporting more than one million viewers for its first primetime lineup, according to early Nielsen projections.

The new channel, dubbed OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, launched at noon on New Year’s Day, replacing little-watched cable network Discovery Health in approximately 80 million homes.

OWN was the third most-watched cable network during the 8 PM and 9 PM timeslots on the evening of Jan. 1. Translation: More women between the ages of 25 and 54 were watching OWN than were watching all but two other cable networks — ESPN and USA.

O herself was OWN’s biggest draw, averaging 1.2 million viewers for the first two episodes of Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, a reality show that chronicles the final season of her daytime talk show.

While many comments on the message board of Oprah Winfrey’s website have been positive about OWN’s weekend launch, there are also posts from fans upset that they now have to pay to see the talk show host. The network is generally available on higher and somewhat more expensive tiers. Many O fans mentioned that they either don’t want to or can’t afford to pay for a cable TV package or can only afford basic cable in these tough economic times.



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