Oprah Winfrey still has plenty of Nielsen firepower.
Monday's 24th season premiere of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" -- which featured a heavily hyped interview with Whitney Houston -- notched an 8.0 rating/12 share in Nielsen's metered market overnight ratings. That's the highest single-day rating for "Oprah" in nearly two years, and up a healthy 45 percent over last season's premiere.
Press reps for Winfrey's show note that "Oprah" scored well despite being delayed or pre-empted in nine major markets due to CBS's neverending coverage of the U.S. Open.
The lure of Houston talking openly about her drug abuse and marriage to Bobby Brown helped "Oprah" do best in Houston's one-time home city of Atlanta, where Winfrey's show earned a 10.6 rating. Winfrey more than doubled her year-to-year premiere ratings in New York, while improving by 73 percent and 85 percent in LA and Chicago, respectively.
Winfrey figures to have strong premiere week overall. Today's edition of "Oprah" features more Houston conversation and a performance by the singer. Wednesday, Winfrey pays tribute to Michael Jackson, and Friday, Winfrey will be live in New York's Central Park.