Most Talkers Sweep in Shows With Good Feelings

Headed into this TV season’s first important ratings period, the November sweeps, which runs Oct. 30 through Nov. 26, most talk shows are focusing on creating feel-good vibes, with series featuring charitable campaigns and viewer contests.

But CBS Television Distribution’s talk leader Dr. Phil is taking a different tack, leading the field with of-the-moment interviews with newsmakers, and often focusing on stories of true crime, domestic abuse and addiction, areas in which Dr. Phil McGraw specializes. In the week ended Nov. 2, which included the first four days of the sweeps, Dr. Phil averaged a 3.2 live-plus-sameday household rating, according to Nielsen.

A Finger on the Pulse

“Our viewers have come to expect our show to be on the pulse of today’s biggest breaking— often ripped-from-the-headlines—news stories,” says Carla Pennington, Dr. Phil executive producer. “Covering these stories not only allows Dr. Phil to utilize the skills most unique to him, but these high-profile exclusives really resonate with our audience.”

True crime is a popular genre among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, but it hasn’t yet been widely tapped. Dr. Phil is currently the only talk show to feature it. Next year, Warner Bros. will introduce magazine Crime Watch Daily, which hopes to build true crime into a new daytime genre.

In November, Dr. Phil continued to tap into that trend. Thus far, McGraw has interviewed pro fighter Josh Grispi, who was arrested in August for assaulting his wife Kaitlyn; and revisited two former guests: Todd Herzog, a Survivor winner who has battled alcoholism; and Michele Knight, who was held in captivity by Ariel Castro for more than a decade.

Later this month, he has an exclusive interview with Tammi-Bleimeyer, who is accused of starving her five-year-old stepson and keeping him prisoner in a closet.

Most of the other talkers tend toward fun and celebrity, contests and charity, with veteran shows such as Ellen and Rachael Ray and rookies Meredith Vieira and The Real sticking with more light-hearted topics.

Disney-ABC’s Live With Kellyand Michael hit season highs as sweeps started, averaging a 3.1 in households, second only to Dr. Phil. Included in that week was Live’s Halloween episode on Oct. 31, which at a 3.6 scored its highest single-day ratings in eight months.

Live, through a branded integration with Wrigley Gum, is asking viewers to recommend on its website or Facebook page by Dec. 8 friends or family who have committed Acts of Kindness (or AOK). Five weekly winners will be awarded $500 cash and a year’s supply of Extra gum. One grand prize winner, announced Dec. 12, will also win a year’s supply of gum, plus $10,000 for herself and her favorite charity.

In November, Live also welcomed top celebrities, including pop star Taylor Swift; two stars from the upcoming Hunger Games movie, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth; and Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and JessicaChastain.

Ellen’s November sweep is also packed full of celebrities, and began with DeGeneres’ Halloween show, where she dressed up as George Clooney’s new wife, Amal Alamuddin.

“I like Halloween because it’s the one time of year you can dress up however you want, and pretend you’re someone you’d never be in real life. For me, that’s married to a man,” DeGeneres joked.

In the week ended Nov. 2, Ellen averaged a 2.8 and tied Dr. Phil among daytime’s sales demographic of women 25-54 at a 1.7.

Being Grateful, Charitable on ‘Ray’

CTD’s food-themed Rachael Ray is all about Thanksgiving, making November a busy month. Besides celebrating its 1,500th episode on Nov. 24, it also will feature a special twoday Thanksgiving event on Nov. 20 and 21. Ray will focus on her #9MillionMealsinitiative all month, encouraging viewers to donate to charities Feeding America and No Kid Hungry.

NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira is also granting holiday wishes. During the week of Nov. 10, the show gave away $10,000 each day. During the week of Nov. 17, the show is taking its “Wish Booth” on the road, allowing viewers to share their wishes or those of a friend. Vieira will then make some of those wishes come true. Similarly, the show’s “Pick Me Up Truck” goes out on the road in the week of Nov. 24 to help viewers in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

The November swee1ps period is the first time in the TV season that stations in non-metered markets can make early judgment calls on series. Often, station groups will wait to see how shows perform in the November book before deciding to renew new shows.

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.