Where the Girls Are

Starting, Home deliver lucrative demos

In a highly fragmented TV universe, daytime ratings are declining. Syndicators used to can a show that earned 2.0; today it's a hit. The reason is narrowcasting: Stations focus more on how shows do among key demos than on how they perform nationally.

That's why NBC Universal's Starting Over
and Home Delivery
—two shows that average around 1.0 in Nielsen's national household ratings—look good to TV stations and local media buyers. Both deliver young women, the group stations most want to reach in daytime.

But there is a downside for national advertisers. To make it worth their while to advertise, they set the bar above a 1.0 rating.

In year two, Bunim-Murray-produced Starting Over
is up 22% in households this year compared with 2003: from 0.9 to 1.1. It's also up 11%, 13% and 29%, respectively, among women 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54, averaging a 1.0 among women 18-34 and a 0.9 among females 18-49 and 25-54. Comparatively, Warner Bros.'The Ellen DeGeneres Show
—last year's top rookie that averages a 1.8 nationally—does a 1.1, 1.2 and a 1.3, respectively, among the same groups.

Those numbers are enough for NBC Universal to give the show a full second-season order, and last month, it cut a cable deal for season one on African-American channel TV One. "The economics on Starting Over
are getting better," says Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic Television. "The plan clearly is to bring it back and see a profit by year three."

Though only four weeks old, Home Delivery
is also showing steady growth.

It started out at 0.9 nationally and has inched up to 1.1. But its female audience is relatively high: 0.8 or 0.9 in the key demos. Designed to tell the same kinds of stories as NBC Universal's Maury
and Jerry Springer, Home Delivery
fits well into Tribune's daytime lineup. The catch? By being reality-based, it distinguishes itself in a crowded talk field. Amy Rosenblum, Maury's executive producer, and her team also produce Home Delivery.

Says Marc Schacher, Tribune's vice president of programming: "At this point, which is still early, we're more encouraged about this show than we've been about a new show in a long time."