LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oprah Winfrey's interview with the teenaged daughter of late singer Whitney Houston was watched by some 3.5 million U.S. viewers on Sunday, the largest audience ever for Winfrey's fledgling OWN TV channel.
OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, said on Monday that the emotional, first public interview with Bobbi Kristina Brown, 19, and the singer's manager and sister-in-law Patricia Houston, more than doubled the previous best audience for the network.
Bobbi Kristina, the only child of Houston and singer Bobby Brown, told Winfrey that she could hear the spirit of her mother constantly, encouraging her to keep going, and that the lights in the Atlanta home they shared kept going on and off in what she felt was a sign of Whitney Houston's presence.
Sunday's broadcast bested the 1.6 million who tuned in for Winfrey's January interview with megachurch pastor Joel Osteen, OWN said.
Whitney Houston, 48, best known for her 1992 hit "I Will Always Love You" from the movie "The Bodyguard", was found lifeless in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel on February 11.
Prescription drugs were found in the room but Los Angeles authorities are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to determine the cause of her sudden death.
Winfrey said family members had told her that the singer was found face down and naked in the bathtub and that members of her entourage had tried desperately to resuscitate her.
Winfrey, who last year ended her daily talk show after 25 years, has returned to the format she knows best with "Oprah's Next Chapter," which aired the Bobbi Kristina interview, on OWN. In the show, Winfrey she ventures outside the TV studio to interview celebrities and newsmakers in their own environments.
But OWN, which was launched as cable network in January 2011, has nevertheless struggled to establish a consistently large audience for its mixture of heart-warming, lifestyle and female-oriented programming.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant)