Cooking Up Hotter Ratings for ‘Ray’

Headed into its ninth season, CBS Television Distribution’s Rachael Ray has received a sweet treat—time slots on four major ABC-owned stations: KABC Los Angeles, WLS Chicago, KGO San Francisco and KTRK Houston.

Since its launch in September 2006, Rachael Ray has aired on three ABC powerhouse stations: WABC New York, WPVI Philadelphia and WTVD Raleigh-Durham, N.C. This move puts the show on seven of the eight ABC-owned stations. Ray also is getting upgrades in 13 other markets.

In Los Angeles, the show will air after another food-focused talker, The Chew, at 1 p.m., moving out of its 8 a.m. slot on CBSowned KCAL. That’s also when Rachael Ray will air in Chicago and Houston. In Chicago, the show is jumping from 10 a.m. on Tribune’s WGN, while in Houston it’s coming over from 10 a.m. on independent KUBE.

In San Francisco, Rachael Ray will replace Disney-ABC’s Katie at 3 p.m., moving over from 9 a.m. on CBS owned KBCW.

“Those moves had to do with a certain amount of consistency that ABC wanted to have on all of their owned stations,” says Joe DiSalvo, CBS Television Distribution president of sales.

Adding ABC owned stations in four top markets should translate into increased ratings for the food-oriented talker come fall. Currently, Rachael Ray is averaging a 1.4 most current season-to-date household average, even with last year. The show is ranked eighth—tied with Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams and NBCUniversal’s Steve Wilkos— among all 17 talkers.

Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Rachael Ray averaged a 0.8 season-to-date, also even with last year. That ranks it ninth in the demo among all talk shows, tied with Katie.

“We look at this as a great opportunity to improve upon that number,” says DiSalvo. “Having the ABC station group with us gives us a chance to do that.”

Promoting Locally

CTD hopes to capitalize on the upgrades in two ways. First, Ray herself will be visiting the four markets where the show’s been upgraded, appearing on newscasts, meeting advertisers and shooting promos.

The show also will shoot segments in some of the markets, inviting fans to take part and including those events in the show at a later date.

WLS Chicago will shoot an entire episode of its locally produced show, Windy City Live, with the host in front of an entire audience of Rachael superfans. And in San Francisco, the station will host Food Truck Friday with Ray in attendance.

“No one loves a food truck more than Rachael Ray,” says executive producer Janet Annino, who has been with Ray from the start.

In Los Angeles, the series is going to throw a surprise lunch for fans, as well as partner with the station on its pet adoption initiative, one of Ray’s own pet causes.

Overall, the station is making some tweaks to the set and working harder to incorporate viewers into every aspect of the show via social media and other digital platforms, but for the most part “the core value of this show hasn’t changed since the beginning,” says Annino. “It’s all about delivering real information to make people’s lives easier.”

Annino also recognizes how television is changing, and while the show is shot in advance, it is shooting episodes with the intention of retaining a live feel.

“We aren’t editing out anything that’s spontaneous,” Annino says. “We want to make it feel as live as can be.”

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. 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.