New Syndies Take Their Bows

Seven new shows are set to premiere this fall, but only two air across the entire country

Why This Matters

Syndicated shows no longer have to be cleared nationally to get on the air, but the economics of producing such programs remain challenging.

At the beginning of this year, it seemed a distinct possibility that TV stations would again have only one new entry in syndication— Page Six TV — to choose from. By this summer, seven new shows had appeared on the market.

But the new crop of shows illustrates a new trend in broadcast TV syndication: not all programs must be cleared nationally. In fact, this year only two out of seven syndicated offerings will be seen across the entire country, and both are magazines: Twentieth Television’s Page Six TV and CBS Television Distribution’s Daily Mail TV.

The rest of the pack is all sold only in part of the country, although some shows — such as MGM’s Couples Court with the Cutlers and Twentieth’s Top 30— are nearly sold in the entire country even though their distributors are opting not to subscribe them to Nielsen to keep costs down. That’s a change that wasn’t even a possibility a few years ago, but the arrival of larger station groups and smaller production budgets has made it an option.

Flexibility and Opportunities

As a result of station groups’ newfound flexibility, shows such as Tegna’s Daily Blast Live and Sister Circle and Scripps’ Pickler & Ben are getting to take their shots. And two of those shows — Daily Blast Live and Pickler & Ben — also air on other platforms, which gives them other ways to generate revenue. Daily Blast Live airs concurrently each weekday on YouTube and Facebook Live, while Pickler & Ben was picked up by Viacom-owned cable network CMT.

On Sept. 4, syndicated shows started to premiere, although the bulk of them opened on Monday, Sept. 18. Ratings have started rolling in for these new offerings, although Hurricane Irma knocked six metered markets out of service, meaning that not all metered markets are able to report in to these early ratings.

After several years with no new magazines, this season offers four: Page Six TV, Daily Mail TV, Daily Blast Live and Top 30.

Page Six TV and Daily Mail TV had very similar debuts on Sept. 18. Page Six TV, which is produced by Endemol Shine North America in partnership with the New York Post, debuted at a 0.8 rating/2 share, and the dropped a bit on Tuesday to a 0.7/2.

Conversely, Daily Mail TV, produced by Dr. Phil and Jay McGraw’s Stage 29 Productions and executive- produced by Carla Pennington and the Daily Mail’s Martin Clarke, debuted at a 0.7/2 and increased to a 0.8/2 on Tuesday.

National ratings for both shows will be available in the week of Oct. 1.

Tegna’s Daily Blast Live averaged a 0.6/2 on Tuesday with 20 markets reporting, down from a 0.8/3 on Monday with 21 markets reporting. In all, Daily Blast Live is airing in 36 Tegna-owned markets. The show, which features eight co-hosts and airs live three and a half hours every week day, was supposed to premiere on Sept. 11, but was delayed a week due to Hurricane Harvey.

This season’s fourth new magazine show, Twentieth’s Top 30, debuted Monday, Sept. 11. The show, produced by Fox Television Stations and hosted by Richard Bacon and Kristin Smith, averaged a 0.3/1 among all telecasts in its first week with 35 metered markets reporting. Among women 25-54, Top 30 averaged a 0.2/1.

Couples Court with the Cutlers, starring Missouri-based attorneys Keith and Dana Cutler, held steady in its first two days at a 0.6/2. Couples Court is distributed by MGM’s Orion TV Productions and produced by David Armour and his 501 East Entertainment Productions.

Pickler & Ben, starring Kellie Pickler and Ben Aaron, opened strong on Monday, Sept. 18, with a 1.3/4, but fell off on Tuesday to a 1.0/3 with 19 markets reporting. Finally, Tegna’s Sister Circle held steady at a 0.5/2 for both of its opening days, although the number of markets reporting dropped from 10 on Monday to eight on Tuesday. Sister Circle is shot at Tegna’s WATL Atlanta and stars reality star Quad Webb-Lunceford; R&B singer Syleena Johnson; Rashan Ali, a TV host and sports reporter; and comedienne Kiana Dancie. It’s cleared in about 60% of the country, according to Tegna.

Among the veterans, three shows premiered in the week ended Sept. 10: Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Ryan, Warner Bros.’ The Ellen DeGeneres Show and NBCU’s Steve, starring Steve Harvey.

‘Live,’ ‘Ellen’ Come Back Strong

Live is entering its 30th season but only its first with Ryan Seacrest as Kelly Ripa’s co-host. Seacrest joined the show in May after it went a year with guest cohosts joining Ripa in place of the departed Michael Strahan. Live premiered on Labor Day, Sept. 4, and for its debut week averaged a 2.2 live plus same day national household rating, according to Nielsen. That’s the show’s highest rating since the May sweep, although it was down 12% from last year’s 2.5 premiere-week rating.

Ellen opened its 15th season on Tuesday, Sept. 5, and tallied a 2.1, right behind Live. That was up 40% from the prior week but down 9% from 2016’s 2.3 premiere-week household average.

Finally, Steve, the new celebrity-focused iteration of Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show, averaged a 1.3 in its first week on the air, off 13% from last year’s 1.5 premiere. Steve continues to be distributed by NBCUniversal and airs in substantially the same time slots, but is now produced by IMG-WME at Universal Studios in Los Angeles and is executive-produced by Shane Farley.