KW Faces Decision on Stewart

Viacom Inc.’s King World Productions has yet to officially drop the ax on weekday show Martha Stewart Living, which it distributes in syndication, but the end appears near.

After Viacom pulled it from its owned stations effective Monday, King World has to do something. Here’s why.

There were 18 Viacom stations in 13 markets carrying Martha, including all of the top five. Losing them reduces the show’s audience reach from 89% of the country to 59%, far below the 10% coverage "rule."

That is, if a syndicated show loses 10% of its coverage in any day (Stewart’s would drop by about 34%). Nielsen will automatically break-out the rating for the show, which means it won’t count toward the season average.

Going forward, every show would now be below that threshold unless King World could quickly re-clear it. That is highly unlikely, since it would have to convince stations to take a show that its own sister stations don’t want.

To get around the 10% rule, King World could declare the show a re-premiere and just start again with its new, reduced station lineup as its official lineup, though that is unlikely given the uncertainty of Stewart's availability going forward. 

King World is expected to pull the plug after giving stations some time to find something else to fill the slot.

In the nation’s top market, Viacom’s WCBS-TV is replacing Stewart with a second run of Entertainment Tonight, which is from Paramount, which is also owned by Viacom.

King World execs were in a meeting and not available for comment.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.