Paternity tests and out of control teens are part of Maury’s DNA, and the NBCU talk show has had its share of those tried-and-true topics in its 12th season. Yet ratings for Maury have risen significantly due to what its host calls a kind of accidental “perfect storm.”
The show’s new Stamford, Conn. facility has re-energized Povich and his in-studio audiences, he says. He also points to the recession as a reason for his ratings lift, saying some viewers may not have the money for “all of these new media aspects of their life,” which makes over-the-air TV a more-watched medium (though, pay-cable services have also made the claim that their numbers are up due to families spending more on in-home entertainment).
The numbers back Povich up. Maury has grown 44% year-to-year in household ratings to 2.3, according to numbers through the first week of March. That is the highest yearly increase of any talker in syndication. For total viewers, Maury is up by 49% over last year, averaging 3.4 million per episode. And the demo numbers stand out, too. The show has charted a 56% increase over last year in adults 18-49 (1.4 rating) and a 44% increase (1.3) in A18-34.
Povich says the themes of paternity, adultery and teen pregnancy, in a year that has seen an abundance of high-profile sex scandals and an increase in teen pregnancy rates, have given his themes timeliness. He adds that the location of the new facility has brought in younger, enthusiastic audiences, which have helped Povich up his game.
“There’s just a lot of young people 18-35…particularly up in Connecticut we have a lot of college kids,” Povich says. “They may have a day off or it works with their schedule in school; I see sororities here, I see fraternities; that never happened in New York…Because of the energy of the live audiences, I’ve responded. I think this is the best hosting I’ve done in years.”
But Povich is pretty much just as surprised as anyone else that his younger demo ratings have increased as he ages. He sees himself as something of a venerated older uncle that’s been welcomed into his audience’s homes. And the septuagenarian can’t imagine hanging it up (or shutting down the lie detector, as it were) anytime soon.
“Right now I see no end to [the show] and I also think it’s keeping me young,” Povich says. “I’m 71 years old. It’s remarkable. I never though I would be on television at the age of 60.”