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Lance & Oprah take the silver in all-time OWN ratings

Lance Armstrong in "world exclusive" interview with Oprah. OWN photo

Thursday night's Part 1 of Oprah Winfrey's "world exclusive" interview with disgraced bike pedaler Lance Armstrong predictably drew a big audience -- at least by OWN's standards.

But all the attendant publicity oddly wasn't enough to make it the still little-watched network's all-time biggest hit.

The 90-minute, 8 p.m. (central) sit-down drew 3.2 million viewers, according to an OWN publicity release drawn from Nielsen Media Research data. That fell short of a March 11, 2012 edition of Oprah's Next Chapter featuring the family of the late Whitney Houston. That program had 3.5 million viewers.

OWN's 9:30 p.m. repeat of the Armstrong interview drew an additional 1.1 million viewers.

In the cable TV network universe Thursday night, OWN's initial Lance/Oprah telecast was beaten in total viewers by USA network's 7 p.m. repeat of NCIS (3.7 million), USA's new episode of its original drama series Suits (3.6 million) and TNT's Los Angeles Lakers-Miami Heat game (also 3.6 million).

Lance/Oprah outdrew one program on the Big 4 broadcast networks -- NBC's new episode of the sure-to-be-canceled 1600 Penn sitcom (3.0 million viewers).

Part 2 of the interview, this time lasting just one hour, airs Friday at 8 p.m. (central). OWN launched on New Year's Day 2011, replacing the Discovery Health Channel.