Exclusive: Thorny Negotiations to Renew 'Steve Harvey' Coming Down to Wire

Negotiations to renew Steve Harvey’s contract to continue hosting The Steve Harvey Show are taking longer than anyone involved wants.

Harvey’s talent contract on the daytime talk show is signed through 2017, but TV stations only have contracts to air the Endemol Shine-produced talk show through the end of this season. NBCUniversal, which distributes the show, wants to renew it in multi-year deals but they can’t do that until Harvey signs a new contract. NBCUniversal could extend the show on stations for another year while negotiations continue over Harvey's talent contract, but NBCUniversal would prefer not to have to resort to that.

Just like most talent, Harvey wants a pay raise in order to continue. Sources estimate Harvey is currently paid between $3 million and $5 million a year to host the talk show, which airs on NBC-owned stations in the country's largest markets. He also wants to move the show from Chicago, where it’s currently produced, to Los Angeles where it could attract more celebrities, but the costs of that move are too prohibitive, according to several production sources.

While The Steve Harvey Show turns in a solid household performance, averaging a 1.8 live-plus-same-day rating season to date among households in the week ending Nov. 8, according to Nielsen Media Research, its performance is not as strong among the key sales demographic of women 25-54. In that category, Harvey is averaging a 0.8, down 11% from last year at this time. That ties the show for seventh among the talkers with Warner Bros.’ The Real, the household rating for which is much smaller, and NBCUniversal’s Jerry Springer. In households, Harvey is ranked fourth, behind Dr. Phil, Live with Kelly and Michael and Ellen.

For that reason, some station groups that carry the show are wanting to move it to earlier time slots and pay less for it. Should the show’s cash-license fees decrease in upcoming renewals, paying Harvey more will result in even slimmer profit margins for the program. Even declining a tenth of a ratings point in the sales demographic represents millions of dollars.

One answer to the problem of paying Harvey more cash is to give him more equity in the show, but sources say NBCUniversal and Endemol Shine can’t agree on who should release some of their equity to Harvey, making negotiations even trickier.

All that said, NBCUniversal and Endemol Shine spokespersons both say they expect a deal to be done soon, and hopefully before NATPE in January.

"Steve Harvey is a proven entertainer and his daytime program is one of a handful of premium options in the daypart. We are very happy with the continued success of The Steve Harvey Show and we look forward to growing it in the future,” says an NBCUniversal spokeswoman.

NBCUniversal needs The Steve Harvey Show to continue because it’s likely to end the run of Meredith Vieira after this season, and NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution sold the show that was in development for the NBCUniversal-owned television stations, Harry, to the Fox owned stations.

Many sources have speculated that NBC’s stations want to launch local news at 4 p.m. across the group in advance of the Summer Olympics next August, but moving shows around — especially Warner Bros.’ Ellen, which is contractually obligated to run at 4 p.m. in some markets — is proving challenging. Should that happen, Harvey would likely move back to 2 p.m. – it currently airs at 3 p.m. in many NBC-owned markets – and Ellen would move back to 3 p.m. That situation remains in flux, however.

Harvey also stars on Family Feud, which is produced by FremantleMedia North America and distributed by Debmar-Mercury. His contract on that show is renewed through 2021.

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.