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NBC O&Os Still Syndication's Go-To Group

With freshman talker Jeff Probst faltering and the NBC Owned Television Stations looking at options, at least two of the major syndicators would like to supply a replacement. Sony Pictures Television is pitching Queen Latifah and NBC Universal is said to be developing a show tailor-made for the group’s daytime schedule. “Just a few weeks ago, NBC stations had an entire afternoon of problems,” says one syndication executive. “Now, in just a few weeks, after having a daytime problem for years, they have [only] one problem,” he says referring to Probst.
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Just as it was last year at this time, the NBC Owned Television Stations is the key to the first-run broadcast syndication marketplace.

For eight of its 10 stations, including WNBC New York and KNBC Los Angeles, the group is looking for a replacement for Jeff Probst, the freshman talk show from CBS Television Distribution that stumbled badly out of the gate last month.

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And at least two of the major syndicators would like to supply the replacement. Sony Pictures Television is pitching Queen Latifah and NBC Universal is said to developing a show tailor-made for the NBC daytime schedule.

In the past, the NBC stations were the launch group of last resort. But the group may finally have shaken its loser image. Last year, NBC gave homes to two new high-profile shows — Probst and Steve Harvey from NBCUniversal.

While Probst has been struggling, Harvey has blossomed into a solid companion and lead-in for Ellen. In three markets, Harvey and Ellen air at 2 and 3 p.m.; in five others, at 3 and 4.

In October so far, Harvey's rating on the NBC stations is up 89% over its time slot average last year, to a 1.7 household rating, based on Nielsen weighted ratings. It’s up 140% among women 25-54 to a 1.2. Ellen, which leads out of Harvey, is up 28% in households to a 2.3. It’s up 23% in women 25-54 to a 1.6 rating.

Brand Connections

“Just a few weeks ago, NBC stations had an entire afternoon of problems,” says one syndication executive. “Now, in just a few weeks, after having a daytime problem for years, they have [only] one problem,” he says referring to Probst.

Syndicators are particularly interested in replacing Probst in those five markets where it leads directly into the Harvey-Ellen combo — New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Hartford, Conn.

As the syndicator that brought Harvey to the NBC stations last year, NBCUniversal may have the inside track on providing the Probst replacement. It also doesn't hurt that NBCUniversal is a member of the same corporate family (Comcast).

An NBC spokesperson says it’s too early for NBC Owned executives to comment about fall 2013.

The NBC stations have earned the respect of syndicators in other ways. Since joining the group in 2011, President Valari Staab has invested heavily not only in syndicated programming, but also in news and promotion.

The investments are paying off.

The afternoon news ratings are mostly up. At WNBC New York, for instance, it’s up 33% in adults 25-54 to a 0.8/4 so far this season. Its household rating is down 5% to a 1.8/4. On KNBC Los Angeles, it’s up 40% to a 0.7/3 in adults 25-54. And it’s up 27% in households to a 1.9/4.

Another source of a replacement for Probst could be its own syndicator, CTD. But there are no indication that it is mounting an effort.

Right now, things are unsettled at CTD. CBS CEO Les Moonves earlier this month tossed out CTD President John Nogawski, folding the division in with CBS Studios International under the direction of Armando Nunez.

And then just yesterday, the syndicator replaced outgoing programming chief Aaron Meyerson with Maureen FitzPatrick and Joe Ferullo, who were both appointed to senior vice president of programming.

There may be another opportunity for syndicators on NBC's morning schedule where NBC's Access Hollywood Live is playing to so-so ratings and is up for renewal in 2013. If Sony can't sell Latifah into Probst's spot, it could go for AHL's.

Another reason that syndicators are focused on NBC is that the other launch groups are pretty much set. “When you look at this fall and next fall, ABC and CBS will basically be unchanged,” says one syndication executive.

ABC O&Os are in the first year of a two-year deal with Disney-ABC’s Katie. In addition, most long-running shows aren’t up for renewal until 2014, notably CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, which airs on many CBS O&Os.

Fox TV Stations have picked up Bethenny from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. However, the group may have some slots to fill if Warner Bros.’ Anderson Live doesn’t return after this season.

Fox could be an alternative for Sony and Latifah. Fox airs Sony’s Dr. Oz on seven stations, including WNYW New York and WFLD Chicago.

Tribune, which has Twentieth Television’s Ricki on some stations, is developing its own programming, including court shows with the likes of attorney Michael William Lebron.

The answer to the question of the fate of Latifah, which counts highly paid actor Will Smith among its executive producers, should come in the next two or three weeks.

People who have seen the Latifah pilot say the show is a combination of Ellen and the old Oprah Winfrey Show. It is upbeat with celebrity interviews and inspirational stories about real people who are making a positive impact on the world.

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Comments (1) -

Webb1021 Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Didn't Queen Latifa's old show put up terribe ratings? Let me guess, she is older and wiser now?
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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 29, 2016
  • 1.
    1.6/6
  • 2.
    1.2/4
  • 3.
    1.2/4
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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