Renewal’s the Rule at NATPE 2015

Open slots are hard to come by with the current season’s entire freshman class expected to return this fall
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Updated January 12, 2015, 10:25 am PT.

With the current freshman class of first-run shows—CBS Television Distribution’s Hot Bench, NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira, Warner Bros.’ The Real, Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game and Trifecta’s Judge Faith—all expected to return for second seasons, availability for new shows is limited. That’s being reflected in the small number of new first-run offerings coming to Miami Beach Jan. 20-22 for NATPE.

There are only four new first-run strips being offered to buyers: NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk, Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily, Trifecta’s The Daily Meal and Disney-ABC’s The F.A.B. A fifth potential offering, an access talk show starring Celebrity Name Game’s Craig Ferguson, will not go forward.

Of the current offerings, only Crime Watch Daily and The F.A.B. are firm for fall, with Crime Watch Daily cleared by Tribune in 4 p.m. slots, and The F.A.B. cleared by the ABC owned stations.

Another show that had been on the list, Rohrs Media’s Safe and Secure With Bill Stanton, will either launch as a slow roll-out this fall or be pushed off until 2016 in the hopes that more time slots will open up. Two potential shows from Sony—GSN’s Mind of a Man and a possible court show starring James Carville—are not going forward.

Queen Gets Bench-ed

One prospective opening created by the departure of Sony Pictures Television’s Queen Latifah, which ended production last month and is going off the air at the end of March, was quickly filled by this year’s surprise performer, Hot Bench, the panel court show created by Judge Judy Sheindlin. Industry watchers had expected that slot to go to Man in the Middle, a panel talk show in development at CTD and starring Jerry O’Connell, but CTD opted not to go forward with that show this year due to economic concerns. It could be revived for 2016, however.

“The shows that have gotten renewed had two-year deals in some places. That’s good for the business in some ways, and challenging in others,” says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president, creative affairs, CTD. “It’s a catch-22 because stations will hold on to what they have if they’re not excited about what’s being offered, or aren’t able or willing to pay for new programs. But if there are no time slots or economics to support the programs, producers won’t be able to develop shows.”

It’s not just this year’s freshman first-run class that’s taking up the slots. Last week, the Fox Television Stations renewed entertainment news program Dish Nation through 2016-17, while Bellum and Raycom agreed to bring back their two regionally cleared shows, Flip My Food and Fix It & Finish It, for two more seasons.

Beyond Crime Watch Daily and The F.A.B., the other new shows are still seeking launch groups.

An access talk show starring Craig Ferguson, who currently stars in Celebrity Name Game, had been in the market since last fall, but it was officially dropped last week. The Tribune station group had been interested in airing the show in access, but couldn’t get the necesssary clearances to launch it, according to sources.

Celebrity Name Game, which airs in access in many top markets, will return next year and is expected to move into earlier time slots in many markets.” NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk is being sold as lead-out of the company’s conflict talkers, including Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos. Offered as a one-hour block of two half-hours, the show will be hosted by New York Live contributor Ben Aaron and Bad Girls Club’s Tanisha Thomas. Much like Chris Hardwick on AMC’s post-Walking Dead talk show The Talking Dead, or Andy Cohen on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live!, Aaron and Thomas will chat both about what happens on daytime conflict talkers as well as what’s happening on reality shows, such as Bravo’s Real Housewives or E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

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Trifecta Hopes for a Meal Ticket

Trifecta is currently nailing down a host and shooting a pilot for The Daily Meal, based on website TheDailyMeal.com, which boasts 13.9 million unique visitors per month, says Trifecta head of distribution sales Kim Sterton.

“It’s a bit like the Entertainment Tonight of food. Food is the celebrity,” says Sterton. “There’s nothing really like it in syndication but cable has made a huge business out of food shows.”

Trifecta is planning to produce 30 weeks of originals of the half-hour strip to run out of stations’ morning and afternoon news starting next fall. Stations will be able to double-run it, just as many of them do with Judge Faith.

“From what we’ve been gathering in the marketplace, we do think there will be a place for this show,” says Sterton.

Meanwhile, Hot Bench, Meredith Vieira and Celebrity Name Game have officially been given second seasons. The Real was sold to the Fox Television Stations for two years and that group is happy with the program. An official pickup for Judge Faith is pending but expected.

Updated January 12, 2015, 10:25 am PT.

With the current freshman class of first-run shows—CBS Television Distribution’s Hot Bench, NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira, Warner Bros.’ The Real, Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game and Trifecta’s Judge Faith—all expected to return for second seasons, availability for new shows is limited. That’s being reflected in the small number of new first-run offerings coming to Miami Beach Jan. 20-22 for NATPE.

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