Double Play


There's nothing like extending a successful brand. King World siblings The Oprah Winfrey Show
and Dr. Phil
finished May sweeps and the season at the head of the class. Oprah
grabbed the No. 2 spot in overall syndication; Dr. Phil
landed at No. 5.

Now host Dr. Phil McGraw is looking to the future—and Viacom is capitalizing on his vision. The show kicks off next season with the launch of a book on parenting. It's tied to a CBS prime time special examining the state of the American family, produced by the talk show's Paramount-based team. "Phil is going to challenge parents to plug back in," says Terry Wood, executive vice president of programming at Paramount Domestic Television.

Last season, McGraw plugged his Ultimate Weight-Loss Solution
book on Dateline
and Today. This round, he stays in the Viacom family. One ripple: In March, McGraw was slammed with a class-action lawsuit accusing him of deceptive and untruthful advertising of his Shape Up! Weight-loss products.

Even so, Dr. Phil's ratings are rising. Finishing the May sweeps up 11% year-to-year in households, the show completed the year up 45% in women 18-34, 29% in women 18-49, and 22% in women 25-54. Some of Dr. Phil's growth may be explained by a subtle shift in approach. He has turned an initial negative stance—what you were doing wrong—into a positive spin—what you do right.

A rejuvenated staff led Oprah's 18th season to its best showing in six years, ending with a 6.8 national household rating. Oprah
is also up 50% from 2002 in women 18-34, 33% in women 18-49, and 30% in women 25-54.

Why the ratings boost?

Harpo President Tim Bennett attributes it to the creative match between Winfrey's range and the eclectic ideas of new executive producer Ellen Rakieten. Though onboard since the show's inception, Rakieten just completed her first year running the show. Indeed, it's been a season with major celebrity guests and racier fare, translating into a ratings boon.