Internet Is Rx for Growth of 'The Doctors'

Rookie talk show sees ratings success thanks to show ideas generated by Website
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CBS Television Distribution's daytime rookie The Doctors has grown 46% in households since its premiere, and done so by sticking with the health topics that intrigue people most, says executive producer Jay McGraw.

And many of those topics have come from fans visiting the show's Website, www.thedoctorstv.com.

“It's the best way of interacting with our viewers,” McGraw says. “I always say that viewers are our best producers. It's like having a focus group every day.”

The show, which has tweaked its format since its September premiere, won its time slot on WCBS New York at 9 a.m. on both Friday, Jan. 30, and Monday, Feb. 2, for the first time, unseating the time period's incumbent champion, WABC's Live With Regis and Kelly.

With an episode on eating right for Jan. 30, The Doctors hit a 2.5 rating/9 share. That beat Regis and Kelly's 2.3/8, and climbed 92% from the CBS Morning News and 127% from the year-ago time period, though that was repeats of CTD's Entertainment Tonight and The Insider.

The show did even better on Feb. 2; its episode on top-five health scares and how to avoid them scored a 3.2/11. That's up 100% from its lead-in, and 191% from the year-ago time period average.

It's also the best WCBS has done in the time slot in a decade, according to CTD research. Regis and Kelly came in second at a 3.1/10.

“I think that the show's content is driving its viewership,” says Peter Dunn, WCBS's president and general manager.

“We do just as much on-air promotion for that show as anything else, but the more people sample it, the more they stick with it.”

In fact, last week The Doctors won its time slot in 11 of the top 36 markets not including New York, according to Nielsen Media Research. And on Feb. 2, The Doctors beat CTD's Oprah Winfrey Show at 4 p.m. in Buffalo, airing on ABC affiliate WKBW. The Doctors scored a 6.3 rating/15 share versus Oprah's 5.9/14. The Doctors also more than doubled its General Hospital lead-in, a 3.0/8.

Since its premiere, The Doctors is up 38% among women 25-54, 29% among women 18-49 and 40% among women 18-34. In the week ending Jan. 25, the last national ratings period, the show held steady at its season-high 1.9.

The Doctors is the only rookie strip so far to be renewed for a second season. However, it has yet to hit the benchmark 2.0 national rating, a feat that has been accomplished by NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal. But Deal, expected to be renewed for another season, is cleared mostly in higher-rated access time slots.

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