"[Armstrong] trumps them all," he says.
The powers that be at OWN are hoping for a big draw from the Armstrong special, hoping that those who don't subscribe to the network are calling their cable company in order to watch it, or hoping that current cable subscribers are taking note of the channel number.
OWN has split the special into two parts, airing over two nights, and Oprah is doing her promotional diligence, coyly teasing CBS This Morning (talking to her best friend, anchor Gayle King) that Armstrong "did not come clean in the manner I expected."
Some critics have rolled their eyes about Armstrong coming clean on Oprah's couch—and not say, in front of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency—but that may be the point. Once upon a time, famous sinners and saints alike could go to Oprah, or Larry King, or Barbara Walters and tell their tales.
"[The Armstrong interview] will help continue to demonstrate that Oprah Winfrey is one of the biggest places to go," says Thompson. Armstrong is not confessing to Ellen DeGeneres or Katie Couric, after all.
"If nothing else, Oprah is still a force to be reckoned with."
Updated at 5:15 p.m. on 1/17/2013