Here Comes 'Harry'... And There Goes 'FABLife'

No one would call 2015 a productive year in syndication. At the beginning of the year, three shows launched into national syndication: Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily, Disney-ABC’s panel talker FABLife and NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk. None of the three came on strong, with all of them averaging under a 1.0 live-plus-same-day household rating season-to-date, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Of the three, it looks like only Crime Watch Daily will survive for a second season, and even that renewal isn’t fully assured.

At NATPE 2016 in Miami last week, Disney-ABC made the expected announcement that FABLife would end its run after this season.

The panel talker—which stars Chrissy Teigen, Joe Zee, Lauren Makk and Leah Ashley—improved 13% to a 0.9 live-plus-same-day household rating in the week ending Jan. 10.

The show had been sold in two-year deals to some station groups, but its ratings performance wasn’t high enough to warrant keeping it on the air. Moreover, star and executive producer Tyra Banks decided in November that she was leaving the series she had helped create.

It’s unclear exactly how ABC owned stations will rearrange their daytime programming lineups, but Disney-ABC also announced during NATPE that it was renewing game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for another year and that it was picking up distribution of viral video show RightThisMinute and clearing it on the ABC owned stations.

Those two shows are expected to help fill programming holes on the ABC owned stations, even though neither are strong ratings performers. Millionaire, with new host Chris Harrison of The Bachelor, is down more than 30% in household ratings compared to last year, when it was also already down quite a bit.

Right Doesn’t Make Might

RightThisMinute, which was created by a station consortium of Raycom, Cox and Scripps, is also down significantly compared to last year when it ran on Fox owned stations in large markets. Fox let Right-ThisMinute go because it was unhappy with its ratings, and the show moved to other stations in many of those markets. It will move again in top markets this fall when it heads to the ABC owned stations in markets such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Prior to launching FABLife but after Disney-ABC’s Katie had been canceled, the ABC station group filled an hour of daytime with double runs of Millionaire and CBS Television Distribution’s Jeopardy!, so this is a programming tactic the ABC stations have used before. Meanwhile, the question will be whether Disney-ABC will develop a new program for daytime.

Sources also indicate that Crazy Talk, which averaged a 0.6 live-plus-same-day household rating in the week ended Jan. 10, is unlikely to proceed after this season.

That said, 2016 looks even more scant, with only NBCUniversal’s Harry launching nationally. Harry, starring Harry Connick Jr., is currently cleared in more than 90% of the U.S. and will debut on Sept. 12.

The daytime entertainment show      which will be executive produced by Justin and Eric Stangel, who formerly did the honors for CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman—has been picked up by Fox owned stations in the country’s largest markets, and will also air on stations owned by Sinclair, Scripps, Media General, Hubbard, Cox, Nexstar, Gray, Bonten, Hearst, Raycom, Dispatch, Quincy and more. Newly added groups include CBS, Tribune and even a few NBCowned stations.

NBCU originally developed the series for its own stations, but the group preferred to launch local news in late afternoons over picking up a new and expensive syndicated series. Harry ended up going to Fox, which is expected to air it in late-afternoon time slots in top markets.

“Harry’s a big star on primetime, he’s on [American] Idol in its last year,” said Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy during a panel at NATPE. “For us, it’s a great show. It’s a new format, it’s not attempting to replace Oprah and we’re very confident, as is NBC.”

Several veteran shows scored renewals during NATPE. Disney-ABC has renewed Live With Kelly and Michael out through 2019-20, as has Debmar-Mercury with The Wendy Williams Show. Debmar-Mercury will also bring Celebrity Name Game, which is produced by FremantleMedia North America and stars Craig Ferguson, back for a third season. And Debmar-Mercury copresidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein also scored long-term renewals themselves with parent company Lionsgate, which bought Debmar-Mercury in 2006.

A fair amount of off-net fare also is in the market, with Warner Bros. shopping Chuck Lorre-comedy Mom to stations, Twentieth offering Last Man Standing and Sony Pictures Television selling The Gold-bergs. Trifecta also announced it was bringing A+E Networks’ off-History hit Pawn Stars to TV stations.

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.