'Katie' Is Talker of the Town

Steve Harvey coming on strong; Probst, Ricki have room to grow

The new daytime talk shows are up and
running, and early results are mostly in line with
expectations, according to syndication sources.

Disney-ABC Television’s Katie premiered on Sept. 10
at a 2.8 rating/8 share primary-run household average
in the weighted metered markets, according to Nielsen
Media Research. That was a good start, tying CBS Television
Distribution’s Rachael Ray for best talk premiere
in the decade since CTD’s Dr. Phil spun out of Oprah
in 2002. But by Sept. 12, Katie had lost 19%
of its first-day rating, down to a 2.3/7.

Still, Katie, starring former Today show cohost and
CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, has a ways to
go if it’s to take over the daytime talk-show crown. The
show’s opening-day ratings improved over year-ago time
periods by 22%, which is “basically [performing] at the
same levels of the time period,” said one analyst. Particularly
of concern to some station group programmers
was how Katie’s ratings dropped off at the quarter-hour
mark, indicating that viewers may have lost interest.

Overall reviews for the show and Couric’s performance
were positive. “Katie outperformed my expectations,”
said one station executive. “I was a little worried
about the quarter-hour dropoff in a couple of places.
But she’s on the right stations, and she’s the right fit.”

NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey, which is produced by
Endemol USA out of NBC-owned WMAQ Chicago,
continued to make a strong case for itself in its second
week. Five days in, the show was averaging a steady
1.5 rating/4 share, up 50% over last year’s time periods
and up 25% over its average lead-ins, which marks
success by any measure.

“For the single-hosted talk shows, it’s very hard to find a talent that people care enough about to watch,”
said one syndication executive. “You have to have remarkable
entertainers like Ellen [DeGeneres] or Steve
Harvey or someone with expertise that you really can’t find anywhere else, like Dr. Oz.”

As long as Harvey can keep his audience laughing,
NBCU seems to have a solid performer on its hands.

Returns were not quite so positive for CTD’s Jeff
or Twentieth Television’s Ricki Lake.

Most syndication executives and station programmers
said that Probst met their expectations with its
1.0/3 debut, although they are still wondering what the
show’s focus will ultimately be. The bigger question for
Probst will be whether the show can grow from here.

“Probst came into this without any real point of view
or expertise,” said one executive. “He’s definitely trying
to create some value there, through self-help and
adventure, as he calls it.”

The debut that had station executives most concerned
was Twentieth’s Ricki Lake, which premiered to
a 0.8/2 primary-run weighted metered-market average.
Twentieth was quick to point out that the show lost
some of its ratings due to Cablevision’s blackout of
Tribune’s WPIX to 40% of the New York market. But
station execs said a bigger problem is the show’s poor
showing in big markets such as Los Angeles and Chicago,
where Ricki turned in a 0.3/1 at 3 p.m. on both
Fox-owned KTTV Los Angeles and WFLD Chicago.

And on Tribune’s WPIX, where Ricki airs in the 4 p.m.
time slot formerly occupied by Warner Bros.’ Anderson,
Ricki did a 0.7/2 rating. That was down from the 1.0
Tribune’s Bill Cunningham and NBCU’s Steve Wilkos filed and the 1.5 earned by NBCU’s Maury, though it
was an improvement from Anderson’s 0.5/1 premiere
on WPIX last fall.

Speaking of Anderson, the show’s reboot to Anderson
, featuring mostly live-to-tape episodes and a new
cohost every day, opened 18% stronger on Sept. 10
than its 2011 premiere. That performance came as a
surprise to Warner Bros. executives, considering that
Anderson Live!’s station lineup is weaker than Anderson
had last year at this time.

Last week’s real success story, however, was the 10thseason
premiere of Warner Bros.’ Ellen, which opened
at a 3.0 rating/8 share primary-run weighted metered
market average, up 20% from last year’s debut episode.

Moreover, Ellen had its best season premiere ever
among both women 25-54 and 18-49, scoring a 2.2/12
among women 25-54, up almost a full rating point
from last year’s 1.3/7, and a 1.7/10 among women 18-
49, up 54% in that demo from last year.

While this year’s newcomers are just getting going,
syndicators are already seriously shopping next year’s
contenders. Warner Bros. last week was working on
closing deals for Bethenny, which Fox tested for six
weeks on six stations over the summer to good results.
And Sony Pictures Television is actively shopping its
new Queen Latifah talker, showing a presentation tape
of Latifah working with Los Angeles-based music students
and donating instruments to the school, as well
as going on adventures with the widows of soldiers.

Both Bethenny and Queen Latifah are expected to debut
next fall. CTD also is developing a new talk show, with
food personalities Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentiis.

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