Now here’s a thought: Did Lance Armstrong really want the biggest possible audience to see his confessional, “Yes, I doped” interview?

The Oprah Winfrey Network was not surprisingly eager to tout the 3.2 million people who watched Winfrey’s interview with Armstrong on Thursday night, per Nielsen estimates, which rose to 4.3 million if you included a rebroadcast that immediately followed.

Per OWN’s press release: “Thursday’s
interview (9 p.m.) was the second highest network telecast to date garnering
3.2 million total viewers, posting strong triple-digit growth across the key
demos versus year ago numbers (+855% W25-54, +931% total viewers). The second
airing (10:30 p.m.) earned an additional 1.1 million viewers. OWN’s top
telecast is “Oprah’s Next Chapter” featuring Whitney Houston’s family (March
11, 2012; 3.5 million viewers).”

Yet beyond the question of whether Winfrey was as tough on Armstrong as a more traditional journalist might have been (for what it’s worth, I thought she was fine), what would the audience have been if Armstrong had sat down with “60 Minutes” or “20/20?” Hard to say, but my guess is — even with the distraction of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o sucking up some of the sports-scandal oxygen — that the tune-in would have been four or five times that high.

Now, it’s possible Armstrong wanted to get his confession out in a venue where he would appear to answer all the questions while somewhat muffling the breadth of the coverage. Admittedly, there was no way this wouldn’t be big news — just witness all the other news outlets drafting off the OWN telecast, running their own interviews with other figures in the case — but it almost certainly didn’t attract as many eyeballs as it would have on a larger network. And I suspec the number for Friday’s part two will be significantly lower.

So … did Lance Armstrong dope his own TV interview? If so, man, this dude is sneaky even when he’s coming clean.