“Add Oprah Winfrey and they will come” might become the new adage for OWN after the success of Greenleaf’s debut last night. The 10 PM premiere of the megachurch family drama starring Merle Dandridge, Keith David, Lynn Whitfield and Oprah herself drew 3.04 million viewers and a 2.18 rating in OWN’s target market of women 25-54. That makes Greenleaf the biggest series launch in OWN’s five-year history.
It also makes Greenleaf the most-watched show on cable last night and the second-most-watched scripted cable debut of 2016 so far after FX’s The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which opened with 5.11 million on February 2. Greenleaf is up 60% in viewers from OWN’s previous debut high of the Tyler Perry-produced If Loving You Is Wrong, which bowed on September 9, 2014. Among the women 25-54 demo, the show created by Craig Wright and produced by Lionsgate is up 28% over If Loving You.
Not that Greenleaf didn’t have some Perry well watched help last night with the latest midseason return of The Haves and The Have Nots. With Perry programming popularly all over OWN, Haves had 2.9 million viewers with a 2.12 W25-54 rating. The all time high for Haves and for OWN overall was the 3.7 million who watched the series’ last season finale last September.
Greenleaf is back for the second part of its 2-night premiere tonight at 9 PM.