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Looks as if Ellen Degeneres wasn’t too far off the mark when she flew her flag from the sky deck of the Willis Tower last month -- right in Oprah’s home turf.
"I want my flag on the tallest building in Chicago," Ellen said at the time. "How tall is Oprah's house?"
According to new audience research “The Ellen Degeneres Show” is on par with “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in the minds of viewers. Some metrics even show she’s exceeding the local icon, The New York Times reports.
While no one can outright replace Oprah in popularity, its become clear that once Winfrey leaves her show in 2011, Degeneres is her heir apparent.
“Ellen already has equity with daytime viewers, which is worth its weight in gold,” Steve Ridge, president of a media strategy group told the Times.
Despite all the hubbub, Degeneres, who just signed a four year syndication deal with NBC (the company that owns this website), still doesn’t hold a candle to Oprah in ratings.
Oprah averages 6.5 million viewers this season and Ellen garners 3.1 million a day.
But Ellen’s audience is growing. She’s increased her average viewers from 2.7 million a day the past four years and she’s positioned herself as a brand – her new job as an American Idol judge is just one example.
No one is positioning Oprah and Ellen for a rivalry, though.
In fact, Oprah and Ellen are tight. Winfrey called Ellen before announcing that she would leave her show, she put the erstwhile comedian on the cover of her “O Magazine,” an honor reserved for just a handful of women, and she even courted her to move her show to the OWN network once it launches.
Ellen opted to go with NBC instead. (Yay for us.)