‘Oprah’ returns to Blighty via ITV 2

B'caster picks up two seasons of yakker

CBS supremo Leslie Moonves was greeted with good news on his arrival in windswept Cannes Tuesday, with the confirmation that CBS Paramount Intl. Television has found a new U.K. home for “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Leading commercial web ITV has picked up two seasons of the long-running chatfest, which will launch on digital network ITV 2 in late January. “Oprah” was last on the air in Blighty in 2003, when the talker ran on cable channel Living TV.

“ITV 2 daytime is all about the best U.S. and U.K. talkshows, and this fits perfectly with that,” said channel editor Zai Bennet.

“Oprah,” watched by an estimated 49 million people in the U.S., probably will air in a 10:30 a.m. slot; it also could end up paired with “The Ricki Lake Show,” which airs in the afternoons. Other U.S. imports already on the channel include “Judge Judy” and “Sally Jessy Raphael.”

With an average audience share of 2%-3% and up to 250,000 viewers during the day, ITV 2 is the U.K.’s leading multichannel network, although its audience is nowhere near the size of its parent network.

“With these talkshows, they’re franchises. We’ve found the right partner for the show with ITV,” CBS Paramount Intl. TVprexy Armando Nunez told Daily Variety.

“In a market like the U.K., where now you have ITV with its four channels and with multichannel what it is, Britain is a very vibrant market,” he added.

Deal comes on the back of CBS Paramount’s strongest year in the U.K. All eight of its new fall season shows have been picked up by British networks. Sky One came on board as a co-production partner on “Threshold,” while “Medium” debuted in a latenight slot on the BBC this summer.

(Elizabeth Guider contributed to this report.)

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