Syndicators and stations got some answers to the many questions hanging over them for next season lineups. CBS Television Distribution’s Jeff Probst (left) was picked up by the NBC Owned Television Stations. Twentieth Television’s Ricki with Ricki Lake was grabbed by Tribune Broadcasting in New York and seven other markets while Warner Bros.’s Anderson with Anderson Cooper secured key second-season renewals. Still looking for a home is Warner Bros.’s Bethenny Frankel.
Ten days ago, how the syndicated talk show marketplace would play out for the fall of 2012 was a mystery full of rumor and speculation. Three new shows and first-year Anderson were vying to join Disney-ABC’s Katie and NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey with firm-go clearances for next season and a chance to challenge the likes of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Ellen for talk-show dominance.
Things are a whole lot clearer now.
CBS Television Distribution’s Jeff Probst was picked up by the NBC Owned Television Stations. Twentieth Television’s Ricki with Ricki Lake was grabbed by Tribune Broadcasting in New York and seven other markets while Warner Bros.’s Anderson with Anderson Cooper secured key second-season renewals. Still looking for a home is Warner Bros.’s Bethenny Frankel.
Jeff Probst snagged the prize with its NBC deal. The group agreed to carry the show featuring the Survivor host on eight of its 10 stations: WNBC New York, KNBC Los Angeles, WCAU Philadelphia, KXAS Dallas, KNTV San Francisco, WTVJ Miami, KNSD San Diego and WVIT Hartford, Conn.
“The reason they bought Jeff is NBC decided that he has the most upside to eventually become their news lead-in,” says John Nogawski, president of CBS Television Distribution.”NBC was the crown jewel everyone wanted and those stations, combined with the groups we had already signed, which were the backbone of the Oprah lineup, are now the ones Jeff will premiere on.”
Including deals with other station groups, Jeff Probst has cleared more than 55% of TV homes. CBS’s immediate challenge is finding an outlet in Chicago.
Ricki was last week’s other big winner. Tribune Broadcasting picked it up in eight markets, including WPIX New York, where it will air at 4 p.m. as a news lead-in, and KDAF Dallas. Tribune also acquired the show in Seattle, Sacramento, Hartford, Indianapolis, Harrisburg, Pa. and Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Of all the talk shows coming out next year, Ricki Lake has done it before, successfully for a lot of years,” says Sean Compton, president of programming at Tribune. “We see Ricki as being a bridge between the conflict talkers in the early part of the day into early evening news.”
Twentieth is expected to announce deals soon with another station group that includes other top-10 markets.
“Ever since Oprah went off the air, and with soap operas going off the air, daytime is up for grabs,” says Paul Franklin, executive vice president and general sales manager at Twentieth. “TV viewers need new, fresh programming. That’s why we like Ricki. She has proven herself. Now, she has matured and is even more relatable to daytime viewers. That’s why it’s resonating with stations.”
Warner Bros. ensured a second season of Anderson with a deal with Fox Television Stations. In addition to picking up the show in New York (WYNW), Minneapolis (KMSP) and Tampa (WTVT), Fox renewed it in Chicago (WFLD), Los Angeles (KTTV) and Boston (WFXT).
In New York, Anderson will be moving off of Tribune’s WPIX, which is going with Ricki.
Warner Bros. last week also announced a slew of other renewals for Anderson, including LIN Media stations in nine markets.
Warner Bros. says it is continuing to talk to stations about its show with reality star Bethenny Frankel. However, having missed out on the NBC O&Os, the show may end up moving forward on cable. But two likely cable networks for the show — Bravo, where Frankel got her start, and OWN — say they are not pursuing the show.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Disney-ABC announced that Katie had surpassed 80% clearance for fall 2012. Over the summer, the high-profile show with former CBS Evening News anchor and Today co-host Katie Couric became the first major talk show for 2012 to land major station clearances — the ABC O&Os. On Katie’s heels is NBCU’s Steve Harvey, which today crossed the 70% clearance mark.
Still a mystery is where some of the shows will land on stations’ schedules.
Katie will get mostly afternoon slots, including at 3 p.m. on some ABC affiliates. The network is giving that slot back to its stations. Disney-ABC’s hope is that Katie will generate strong enough ratings in its rookie season so that stations upgrade it to the evening news lead-in slots in 2013, according to several syndication executives.
Several station executives expect Jeff Probst to air at 2 p.m. on some NBC stations coming out of the soap opera Days of Our Lives. Steve Harvey, a relationship-oriented show hosted by the comedian, would be good counter-programming to Katie at 3 p.m., and smoothly lead into Ellen at 4 p.m., they say.
How the NBC schedules shake out depends in large part on what happens with Sony Pictures Television’s Nate Berkus, which is two years into a three-year deal with NBC. However, Nate’s fate has been the topic of much speculation. Even if the NBC stations can find a place for the show on their crowded schedule, other stations that are in the final year of their contracts may not. For the moment, Sony says the show is moving forward for next year.
“NBC owned stations have made a concerted effort to aggressively turn around their daytime lineups,” says Bill Carroll, vice president of programming at Katz Television Group. “Ellen has been a cornerstone for them. But, now, with the addition of Steve Harvey, Jeff Probst and, in some markets, Access Hollywood Live, their afternoon lineup is compatible with their daytime lineup, which consists mostly of Today.”