‘Martha’ Has Work to Do

Martha Stewart has yet
to craft a ratings makeover since
moving her daily syndicated
show to Hallmark Channel.

Nearly two weeks since the Sept.
13 launch of the formerly syndicated
The Martha Stewart Show on
Hallmark — part of a daily, eighthour
late morning/afternoon block
programmed by Martha Stewart
Living Omnimedia — the show
has averaged 193,000 viewers during
its 10 a.m. airing, 53% below
the 457,000 viewers the network
generated during the time period
a year ago with repeats of off -network
shows like The Golden Girls,
according to Nielsen data.

A 5 p.m. repeat of the show has
generated 87,000 viewers through
Sept. 22, down a whopping 79%
from the same period last year,
when Hallmark aired such offnetwork
series as M*A*S*H in the

A 4 p.m. repeat of the previous
day’s The Martha Stewart Show is
averaging 103,000 viewers, down
72% from programming in the 4
p.m. time slot during the same period
last year.

In a bid to boost daytime ratings,
Hallmark in January signed
a multiyear partnership with the
home-makeover star that brought
Stewart’s successful weekday talk
show to the network, along with
new, original shows and primetime
specials produced by her
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
production company.

“We are admittedly disappointed
with the start that we’re off to,
from a ratings point of view,” Hallmark
Channels CEO Bill Abbott
told Multichannel News. “But from
a quality and production point of
view, we couldn’t be more proud
of the product that we have on-air.
We are certainly believers in the
partnership and we’re hoping that
we’ll build our audience and that
viewers who love Martha will ultimately
fi nd her and tune in.”

Abbot attributed the slow ratings
start to Martha Stewart fans
still adjusting to the move of the
Martha Stewart Show
to Hallmark
from syndication, and to Hallmark
viewers still getting used to the series
on the network.

The fifth season of The Martha
Stewart Show
averaged 749,000
viewers during its syndication run
through this past August.

“It will take viewers a while to
get adjusted to the fact that on cable
there’s a unique, topical original
off ering in daytime,” he said.
“If you’re a viewer of daytime television
and looking for something
that is live and topical, typically
your first stop is the broadcast networks
— cable daytime is typically
not original in nature.”

The network has already made
several scheduling moves with two
other shows from MSLO. A week
after its Sept. 13 debut, the daily
talk show Whatever With Alexis
and Jennifer
moved to noon from its
original 11 a.m. slot. Mad Hungry
With Lucinda Scala Quinn
, a halfhour
show focused on tasty, nutritious
family eating options and
hosted by MSLO’s executive food
editor, moved to 11 a.m. with backto-
back episodes. It had debuted
with a 30-minute episode at noon.

“We looked at the flow, and
coming out of Martha, the Lucinda
show was a better companion,”
he said. “Whatever was skewing
very young and was in the 18-to-49
category, whereas the other shows
were more in the 25-to-54 wheelhouse.”

Abbott also didn’t rule out any
further schedule changes to the
block or to The Martha Stewart

“This an ongoing process,” he
said. “We’re looking at the numbers
every day and we’re striving
to find what’s best for the partnership,
and for our collective
interests , and we’ll take whatever
action is necessary to make
that work.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.