2020 Syndie Slate Is Taking Early Shape

It’s not yet December and already TV stations know with certainty that two of this year’s new shows will return, with two more rookies likely to get second-season renewals. Moreover, stations also already know two more big shows are coming down the pike next year, bringing the total to six before we’ve even hit 2020.

Last week, NBCUniversal announced an early season-two renewal for its new talker, The Kelly Clarkson Show, which is cleared on NBC-owned stations in major markets and in 100% of the country.

That Clarkson is renewed isn’t surprising considering that it was largely sold in two-year deals. That’s also the case for Disney’s Tamron Hall. A Disney source said the company is happy with Tamron Hall’s creative direction and that they expect the show, which is averaging a 1.0 live-plus-same-day rating in households, according to Nielsen, to return for a second season.

Also expected to return is NBCU’s Judge Jerry, starring Jerry Springer, which also debuted this season and is averaging a 0.9 in households.

Already renewed is Fox’s 25 Words or Less, hosted and executive produced by Meredith Vieira, along with veterans Divorce Court and Dish Nation. 25 Words or Less, which first aired as a test on select Fox stations in summer 2018, is also averaging a 0.9 in households.

Fox earlier this fall also gave three-season renewals to Warner Bros.’ Extra, which moved to Fox-owned stations in six top markets this September, as well as TMZ and TMZ Live. Fox renewed Warner Bros.’ The Real for two more seasons, and renewed People’s Court on WNYW New York for three more years. All of those renewals help Fox lock down its programming plans.

Meanwhile, two talk shows fronted by famous names already look cleared to launch in fall 2020: CBS Television Distribution’s Drew Barrymore and Debmar-Mercury’s Nick Cannon. The CBS-owned stations will serve as the launch group for Barrymore, while Fox will launch Cannon. Both must clear the rest of the country prior to debut, but with 10 months before the start of the new season, there should be plenty of time to find station homes.

What NBC has done so well with Kelly Clarkson this season is execute a robust digital strategy while performing well on linear television. Kelly Clarkson is the highest-rated new show at a 1.4 live-plus-same-day household ratings average, which makes it the fourth-highest rated talk show in daytime, behind CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, Disney’s Live with Kelly and Ryan and Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Kelly Clarkson is averaging a 0.6, which typically ranks it fifth among the talkers.

“Kelly Clarkson is an amazing artist, an amazing person, and the exact same person on camera as off,” Tracie Wilson, executive vice president, creative affairs at NBCUniversal Television Distribution, said. “That’s what people are feeling — they are feeling the real Kelly Clarkson. Alex Duda is running an amazing production and I think the content is really resonating because it’s fun and entertaining. The show is full of humor and heart and that’s what people want right now.”

Clarkson also is standing out on the digital front, where some 13.3 million people have watched the show’s opening segment, “Kellyoke,” in which Clarkson sings a cover of one of her favorite artists. Overall, the show has had more than 60 million views on YouTube since it launched on Sept. 9, and 60% of the show’s YouTube audience is composed of adults 18-34. The show is syndication’s fourth-rated program in total interactions, which combines Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. On Twitter, the show is second only to Ellen with 533,000 interactions thus far.

The digital strategy for The Kelly Clarkson Show did not just come out of thin air. It was carefully planned right along with the talk show’s linear launch. “As we developed the show, the digital plans came right alongside and were as important as the linear launch,” Wilson said. ”This is the first time [at NBCUniversal’s syndication unit] that our strategies have been so aligned across both the linear and digital platforms. It was the right decision and it’s paying off.”

Thinking Digitally

It’s a strategy that other syndicated shows could stand to adopt as TV shows live across more and more platforms.

“I think [not having a digital strategy] is an old-fashioned way of thinking,” Wilson said. “Stations and producers need to open their minds up to looking at the business differently. If you aren’t looking at your digital strategy alongside your launch strategy, you are making a big mistake.”

Meanwhile, there’s a crop of other new series that debuted this year, including MGM/Orion’s Personal Injury Court, Trifecta’s Protection Court and Sony Pictures Television’s off-GSN game show America Says.

The biggest outstanding question around this year’s crop of newbies is the sustainability of SPT’s new talker, Mel Robbins, which is cleared in about 90% of the country on an all-barter basis and is averaging a not very strong 0.4 household rating. In the meantime, SPT also is shopping a new panel talker, The Good Dish, for fall but so far has not announced a launch group.

Also potentially in the market for next fall are Debmar-Mercury’s two tests: Jerry O, which aired on select Fox-owned stations in August; and Central Ave, which the Lionsgate-owned company is co-producing with Will Packer Media and currently testing on Fox-owned stations.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for The Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.). She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997 - September 2002.