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'TMZ Live' Ready to Talk the Talk

Celeb news show expected to be picked up by Fox stations for fall 2013 12/10/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

In TV development time, TMZ Live’s passage
from birth to series has moved with the equivalent
speed of a good Lindsay Lohan story.

It began its life as a Web series that executive producer
Harvey Levin and other producers and reporters from
TMZ shot to air on while chatting about the
day’s stories. The live video show quickly migrated to
other Web platforms, such as UStream. From there, it
earned a test run on Fox’s KTTV Los Angeles, which also
airs the half-hour entertainment magazine TMZ twice a
day. The show then added a test run on KSAZ Phoenix,
where it started airing last summer.

TMZ Live did well enough on both stations that on
Oct. 1, Fox expanded its run to five more markets: Boston,
Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Minneapolis. Now,
two months later, the numbers are in: With proven
results, TMZ Live is poised to be cleared nationally.

“We’ve been happy with the ratings, we are very optimistic
for the show’s future and we really like the
business model,” says Frank Cicha, senior VP of programming
for Fox Television Stations.

Fox and Warner Bros. are expected to hammer out
a deal this month, but both parties are interested in
clearing the one-hour show on all of the Fox-owned
stations for a fall 2013 start. From there, Warner Bros.
would work to clear TMZ Live across the country.

“I’m not surprised TMZ Live is working because
I think TMZ’s point of view is very compelling to
people,” says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of
Telepictures Productions, the first-run arm of Warner
Bros. Television. “TMZ Live follows suit with what
you see working on television right now: shows that
have topicality, a point of view, multiple perspectives,
a brand that people like and the latest information.”

While TMZ is considered an entertainment magazine,
reporting mainly on celebrity-focused stories, it’s more
of a comic take on the day’s events in Hollywood (or
the “30-mile zone” that Hollywood occupies, hence the
show’s title). TMZ Live is more of a casual talk show
about celebrity news featuring TMZ’s actual staffers.

TMZ Live is what a talk show should be these days,”
says Levin, who launched the show on
two years ago. “We talk about stuff that people care
about in a way that they care about. The show works
because I’ve got all of these people in the newsroom
who are authentic, quirky, knowledgeable and really
good at what they do. We don’t have anchors who read
teleprompters. If the person worked on the story that
we’re talking about, then he or she is the right person
to talk about it on-air.”

Overall, TMZ Live is averaging a 1.1 rating/3 share
in its seven markets, up 25% in rating and one share
point in its time period compared to last November.
This November, which was a strange month for syndication
ratings due to massive ratings breakouts on
the East Coast after Superstorm Sandy, the show is up
43% compared with its 0.7/2 lead-in.

Among the key daytime demographic of women 25-54,
TMZ Live is up 75% this year to a 0.7/4 compared with
last year’s 0.4/3.

Improvements over year-ago time periods and leadins
are exactly what station managers want to hear
when acquiring a show.

In Los Angeles, the show’s originating market, TMZ
airs on Fox-owned KTTV at 4 p.m. and is improving
its time slot among households by 40% over last year,
when Warner Bros.’ Anderson aired in the hour. Among
daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54 in Los
Angeles, TMZ Live also is up, improving 20% to a
0.6/3 from last year’s 0.5/2.

TMZ Live’s best performance comes on Fox’s WJBK
Detroit, where it airs at 2 p.m. and averages a 2.1/6
in households, up 61% from CBS Television Distribution’s
now cancelled Swift Justice, which averaged a
1.3/4. Among women 25-54 in that market, TMZ Live
is up 110%, to a 1.7/9 from a 0.8/4.

TMZ Live
also does well on KSAZ Phoenix at 3 p.m.,
where it’s averaging a 2.1/5 in households, up 23%
from last year, when CTD’s Judge Joe Brown turned in a
1.7/5 in the time slot. Among women 25-54 in Phoenix,
TMZ Live is increasing the audience by 71% to a
1.2/6 from a 0.7/4.

Neither Boston nor Chicago are quite as impressed
by Levin and crew’s Hollywood chat as L.A., Phoenix
or Detroit. On Fox’s WFXT Boston, TMZ Live is averaging
a 0.5/2 in households, a small rating but still up
from last year’s Swift Justice, which averaged a 0.3/1.

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