Oprah Cries While Announcing Decision to Quit Show

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey gets emotional on her talk show Friday while explaining to her audience why she decided to step down after 25 seasons on the air.

"Over the next couple of days you may hear a lot of speculation," she tells her studio audience. "I wanted you to hear this directly from me."

Check out photos of Oprah through the years

Breaking down into tears, Oprah says, "Our viewers have enriched my life beyond all measure. You all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens and into your lives. And for some of you longtime Oprah viewers you have literally grown up with me, we've grown together.

"These years with you, my viewers, have been a blessing... I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear... and has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known."

"Why walk away?" she continues. "Here is the real reason -- I love this show, this show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it's time to say goodbye."

She calls now "the exact right time" to leave.

"The countdown to the end of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' starts now, and until that day in 2011, when it ends, I intend to soak up every meaningful, joyful moment with you."

Oprah is launching a television network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, in partnership with Discovery Communications.