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‘Oz’ Feeling Great And Powerful

SONY PICTURES TELEVISION is actively pitching TV stations on the renewal of Dr. Oz, the highest-rated first-run show to premiere since CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil in 2002.

The deal would renew Dr. Oz for three years, taking it through 2014 like fellow top talkers Dr. Phil and Ellen. It also would allow a window for the show to air on cable. Dr. Oz was spun off from CTD’s The Oprah Winfrey Show, and a likely cable home for it (and fellow anticipated Oprah spinoff Nate Berkus, which Sony launches this fall) is Winfrey’s new cable network OWN. Her joint venture with Discovery is scheduled to launch early next year.

Sony is working on getting time-period upgrades for the show, and its pitch emphasizes Dr. Oz’ performance as a news lead-in while painting the show as a strong competitor against local newscasts on rival stations. When Dr. Oz airs as a news lead-in, the show improves local news performance by 30%, according to Sony; when it airs against local news, those ratings drop by an average of 13%.

Sources say both the Fox and NBC station groups are in the running for Dr. Oz, which tapes in New York, where both groups own flagship stations. The show launched on Fox-owned stations WNYW New York, KTTV Los Angeles, WFLD Chicago, KYW Philadelphia and WFXT Boston in two-year deals that expire in September 2011. Dr. Oz significantly improved time periods for the Fox stations, which double-run the show.

Rumors have been flying that NBC’s station group would try to snatch Dr. Oz ever since NBC picked up Nate Berkus in January. Dr. Oz had a strong rookie season, finishing the May sweeps with a 2.4 live-plus-same-day household rating, according to Nielsen, tying Ellen as the fourth-ranked talker.

“I think it’s possible that NBC will step up for Oz,” says Bill Carroll, VP of programming at Katz Media Group, “but I think it’s more likely, given what Fox has established with the show, that Fox keeps it.”

NBC likely will have some holes to fill in daytime come fall 2011. The group renewed Ellen for three more years in February, and picked up Nate Berkus in January. This fall, besides Nate, NBC plans to air repeats of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise and test a live spinoff of Access Hollywood, but chances are it will have room for a new syndicated show.

Sources say NBC also is considering picking up Rosie O’Donnell’s new talk show for fall 2011. If Fox loses Dr. Oz, sources speculate that the group would be more likely to pick up Rosie, although there’s no love lost between Fox executives and the outspoken O’Donnell, who takes frequent shots at Fox News.

Syndicators are scrambling to stake claims to 2011 time slots before Oprah ends its storied run.

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