The station group may not renew Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos beyond 2015-16, when its current contract with syndicator NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution ends, according to multiple sources. Tribune airs the shows in many markets, including six of the top 10.
Paternity testing, brawling love rivals and chair-throwing exes may soon be a thing of the past at Tribune Broadcasting.
The long-time major-market home of Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos, may not renew some or all three of the conflict talk shows beyond 2015-16, when the station group’s current contract with syndicator NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution ends, according to multiple sources.
And Tribune is developing one or two shows for fall 2015 to begin its migration away from conflict talk, the sources say. Neither are conflict talk, they say.
A spokesperson for Tribune would not comment on the renewal negotiations. An NBCUniversal spokesperson declined to comment.
Tribune airs the shows on many of its stations, including six in top 10 markets (WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles, WPHL Philadelphia, KDAF Dallas, WDCW Washington and KIAH Houston). Tribune also airs Maury on WGN Chicago.
Tribune emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2012. In January 2013, the new owners brought in one-time FX CEO Peter Liguori as its new CEO. A month later, former NBC-owned WMAQ Chicago general manager Larry Wert joined Tribune as president of its broadcasting division.
The loss of Tribune could spell trouble for NBCU’s long-running conflict franchises. Jerry debuted in broadcast syndication in 1991 and its spinoff Steve Wilkos debuted in 2007. Maury has been in broadcast syndication since 1998.
But NBCU could find other outlets for the shows in the top markets. With duopolies in many of the top markets, either CBS or Fox could step in for Tribune.
Ratings for Maury and Jerry are still respectable, but trending down.
Maury scored a 2.1 household rating in 2013-14, compared to a 2.2 last year and a 2.4 in 2011-12, based on Nielsen live-plus-seven-day ratings. Jerry has a 1.3, compared to a 1.4 last year and a 1.5 household rating in 2011-12.
Wilkos has a 1.4, flat to last year and up from a 1.3 household rating in 2011-12.