As Cold of November Rushes In, Shows Get HotterSweeps month is still vital for stations making decisions, and series plan accordingly 11/07/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
Much is made of syndication’s September
premieres, but November is when syndication
watchers really start paying attention.
The days grow dark and cold, people stay inside and
ratings start hitting their true strides.
That trend was already starting to ring true as October
came to an end. In the week ended Oct. 23,
and in the face of several preemptions for World Series
baseball games, many
syndicated programs still
growth. That trajectory
should continue through
November, when producers
pull out all the
stops to program and
promote their shows.
“We take sweeps very
seriously, and we tend
to put our bigger events
and stunts inside the
November book,” says
Mindy Borman, Dr. Oz
“I approach every
sweeps period as if it
is the most important
month of the year,” says
Carla Pennington, Dr.
Phil executive producer.
“I do save shows that I
think are spectacular for November sweeps.”
While many say sweeps periods are less relevant in
these days of local people meters that deliver nearly
instantaneous ratings, TV station groups still rely on
November numbers to start making decisions. That’s
particularly important now, with syndicators trying to
secure the last remaining slots so they can close deals
for new shows.
“To the stations, the November book matters very
much,” says Borman. “But it’s also true that you can’t just
perform well inside the book and do well. It feels like
we’ve been in launch phase for three years, and there are
lots of opportunities outside the book to hit big numbers.”
Still, Warner Bros. and Debmar-Mercury will be
watching November ratings carefully to gauge the performances
of their respective rookie talkers, Anderson and Jeremy Kyle, while CBS Television Distribution and
Sony each hope their talkers—Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz—
emerge at the top of the genre.
This year’s November sweeps is already underway,
having started Oct. 27 and continuing through Nov. 23,
concluding just before the slow Thanksgiving holiday.
Most shows will continue doing what they do best,
but with the volume amped up.
Dr. Phil launched its 10th season in September to the
show’s biggest ratings in four years, with an exclusive
three-part interview with the parents of the acquitted
Casey Anthony. Phil’s ratings have since fallen back to
earth a bit, averaging a 2.8 live plus same day household
number, but that’s enough to keep the show in
the talk lead, except in the occasional week when Oz
manages to top or tie it.
Phil hopes to reap more ratings from the Anthony
story, hosting both prosecuting attorney Jeff Anthony
and jury foreman David Angelo on Nov. 15. Angelo
spoke to news programs in the wake of the trial, but
this is the first time he will reveal his face to audiences.
“Shows based on news stories seem to be really
working for us,” says Pennington, mentioning an upcoming
episode in which Dr. Phil McGraw will talk to the family of a woman found hanging naked off
her boyfriend’s balcony in San Diego. Her death was
ruled a suicide, but questions remain. “Phil has the legal
background, plus he’s able to handle the emotional
side of any headline story,” Pennington says.
Dr. Phil is also extending its reach to the world of
celebrity, with Adam Sandler appearing to promote his
new movie, Jack and Jill, on Nov. 11.
Dr. Oz will keep his
focus on helping his audience
grow happier and
healthier. This season, Oz
launched “Dr. Oz’s Transformation
Nation: Million-Dollar You,” and on
Nov. 7, he will talk about
how women over 40 can
lose 40 pounds or more.
“Issues that we’ve found
really resonate with our
audience are weight-loss
and specifics inside your
weight-loss,” says Borman.
“Our viewers also
are interested in how to
prevent cancer, and how
to prevent some of the
things they fear the most.
News leads really work
well for us, and this season,
it’s been sit-down interviews
with thought leaders that are really connecting
with our viewers.”
On Nov. 9, nutrition expert Dr. Andrew Weil will sit
down with Dr. Mehmet Oz to talk about his battle with
depression and how that led him to create a four-week
personal plan for happiness.
One of November’s biggest events will be the monthlong
goodbye party for Regis Philbin, who departs
Disney/ABC Television’s Live! With Regis and Kelly on
Nov. 18, after being with the show since 1982.
After that, Live! will start its search for a new cohost.
Jerry Seinfeld is the first guest host on tap, with a
three-episode stint airing Nov. 19-21.