This fall, three new nationally distributed programs will debut in syndication: Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily, Disney-ABC’s FABLife and NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk. Another show, Hollywood Today Live, will premiere on Fox and Media General stations in multiple markets.
Those shows, all debuting Monday, Sept. 14, enter a challenged daytime television environment that gets more fragmented each year. Even so, programs that have shown early staying power—such as Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams or NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey in past years—can go on to have long and lucrative lives in syndication.
Each of the new shows has both advantages and challenges.
Crime Watch Daily is a one-hour series that will feature reporters taking on crimes and scams all over the country, in many cases teaming with local TV news reporters to dig out new details.
“Crime is an area that’s been very successful in primetime and particularly successful on cable,” says Bill Carroll, senior VP, director, content strategy, Katz Television Group, “and this show will attempt to transition that success over to broadcast.”
Crime Watch Daily will air on Tribune-owned stations in top markets, often leading viewers out of NBC Universal’s conflict talkers and into local newscasts. Whether the show will be able to keep viewers hooked all afternoon is something that industry-watchers will be paying attention to. FABLife, which has gone through a few iterations of that title, is executive produced by and stars Tyra Banks, who also executive produces and stars on The CW’s America’s Next Top Model, entering its 22nd season this fall. Banks also spent five years starring on Warner Bros.’ The Tyra Banks Show, which aired on Fox-owned stations in top markets. FABLife is a lifestyle panel show in the vein of ABC’s The View and The Chew, CBS’ The Talk and Warner Bros.’ The Real.
Banks will be joined by model Chrissy Teigen, who’s a social media star in her own right and the wife of John Legend. Teigen’s focus will be on food and cooking. Joe Zee will be the show’s resident fashion expert. Interior designer Lauren Makk will give viewers tips to beautify their homes while Leah Ashley will show viewers how to do it yourself. Besides serving as the panel’s leader, Banks also has taken on the title of chief stylist.
FABLife has a few things working for it. It’s airing on the still-strong ABC stations in markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, but it’s cleared mostly in early afternoon slots, so ratings expectations for it aren’t out-sized.
Finally, Crazy Talk will combine talk, conflict and comedy all in one package, and will be hosted by Tanisha Thomas and Ben Aaron. The show—which is cleared on Fox, Sinclair, Hearst, Cox, Meredith, Raycom, Media General and CW Plus stations—also is airing on NBCUowned cable network Oxygen. Its big plus: it’s relatively cheap to produce.
“It’s the kind of show that has been described as first-run funny,” says Carroll. “The industry has been looking for alternatives to sitcoms.”
Along those lines, Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud continues to demonstrate that there’s room in syndication for huge hits, with the show surpassing the 6.0 household level and routinely beating long-standing game champs Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! this season. Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, at a much more humble 1.3 household average, is showing some growth after moving from competitive access time slots into afternoon spots in some Tribune markets last season.
Family Feud and Celebrity Name Game are good examples of what TV stations want more of. With the dearth of off-net sitcoms—the only off-net sitcom coming to syndication in 2016 is Twentieth’s Last Man Standing, starring Tim Allen—stations increasingly need shows they can run in access. Family Feud has proven to be a perfect companion to off-net sitcoms, and studios are currently developing more comedy-game hybrids they hope can work in similar fashion.
“There are several shows being developed in the game genre that are looking to fulfill that first-run funny opportunity,” says Carroll.
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