Exclusive: Debmar-Mercury to Shop 'T.D. Jakes' Nationwide for Fall 2016

After concluding its four-week test, Debmar-Mercury will take talk show T.D. Jakes out for sale with the intention of clearing it for a national launch next fall, said copresidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein.

“The last two weeks were the highest rated of this test,” said Bernstein, “and would you rather have a show where the arrows were going up or going down?”

According to Debmar-Mercury, T.D. Jakes grew by 33% in households, 157% among women 25-54 and 160% among adults 25-54 from start to finish across its four Tegna markets: WFAA Dallas, WXIA Atlanta, KARE Minneapolis, and WKYC Cleveland.

“I’m extremely proud of the quality of the 20 programs that we turned around in pretty short order,” said Bob Sullivan, senior VP at Tegna, which partnered with Debmar-Mercury on the test. “Our belief in him going into the test grew as we developed the program throughout the four weeks. We think he’s a unique talent, who offers a clear point of difference in the market.”

While Sullivan couldn’t say yet if Tegna will pick up the show across its station group, he reiterated the company’s commitment to the project. “If Debmar-Mercury can get it green-lit nationally, Tegna is committed to clearing it where we can,” he said. 

While T. D. Jakes didn’t air in any of the country’s largest markets, the fact that Debmar-Mercury now has 20 episodes and four weeks of shows to take to the market should make a difference, said Marcus. 

"We’re going to bring stations episodes and ratings, and ask them to watch the show,” said Marcus. “We’ll have a sales tape so stations can get to know who T.D. Jakes is, and we’ll show them the research and hope that stations around the country, including in the large markets, give the show a shot.”

On WFAA Dallas at 3 p.m., Jakes’ home market, the show grew to a 0.9 rating/5 share from a 0.3/2 among women 25-54 over the four-week test. It also grew in that market by 360% among adults 25-54. Compared to last year, when repeats of Disney-ABC’s Katie aired in the time slot, T.D. Jakes was up 24% in households, 171% among women 25-54 and 219% among adults 25-54.

On WXIA Atlanta at 2 p.m., Jakes grew 78% in households, climbing to a 1.0/3 from a 0.6/2, and 48% among both women 25-54 and adults 25-54. Compared to last year when the station was airing repeats of CTD’s Rachael Ray, Jakes was up 158% in households, 104% among women 25-54 and 188% among adults 25-54.

On KARE Minneapolis at 2 p.m., Jakes grew 26% in households, 144% among women 25-54 and 297% in adults 25-54.

And on WKYC Cleveland at 4 p.m., the show improved by 41% in households, 138% among women 25-54 and 89% among adults 25-54.

T.D. Jakes is executive produced by 44 Blue Production’s president and cofounder Stephanie Noonan Drachkovitch, Jakes, Derrick Williams and producer Adriane Hopper Williams. Gail Steinberg and Jack Mori are showrunners.

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.