Studios in Market Renewing Veteran Shows

Updated Monday, January 11, 2016: CBS Television Distribution's Rachael Ray is renewed through this season, 2015/16, not through 2017 as reported below. CTD is in the market renewing the daytime talk show.

The most successful daytime TV shows stay that way because they have a loyal viewer base that tunes in day after day. With ratings for daytime broadcast television declining year after year, and the increasing difficulty of launching new shows or even finding time slots in which to do so, TV stations have become even more reliant on those syndicated hits that have stood the test of time.

That’s why studios tend to get out in the marketplace early to renew their strongest shows. Last week, Warner Bros. announced it had renewed The Ellen DeGeneres Show—talk’s third-highest rated show in households and daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, behind only CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil and Disney-ABC’s Live With Kelly and Michael—on its launch group, the NBC-owned stations, through 2020.

CBS Television Distribution—which distributes many of broadcast syndication’s genre-leading shows, including Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, Entertainment Tonight and Wheel of Fortune—is currently in the market renewing many of its long-running programs. After re-signing two of its biggest stars, Dr. Phil McGraw and Judge Judy Sheindlin, to new talent deals last year, the syndicator is now in the marketplace renewing Phil and Judy out through the 2019-20 season.

CTD is also renewing Hot Bench—created by Sheindlin and the surprise hit of last season—for two more years after its current deal, taking the panel-based court show through 2017-18.

“Given the difficulty with ratings and the lack of new shows in the market, we are fortunate to have the shows we do,” says Joe DiSalvo, CTD president of sales. “With those dynamics present, the tried-and-true shows just become that much more valuable.”

CTD also expects two of its lower-rated shows—Rachael Ray and The Doctors—both to continue their runs. Both shows are renewed through the end of this season and CTD is currently working to renew both shows.

Questions are swirling around Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz—ratings for which are down 13% in households and 25% among women 25-54 season to date compared to last year, according to Nielsen—as well as NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey. According to station sources, Sony isn’t in the market renewing Oz yet. While that’s not necessarily unusual, sales forces are renewing the other veteran talk shows, putting Oz’ fate in question.

“The fact that Oz is not out there is not surprising,” says one studio executive. “[Sony] still has plenty of time, and there’s not a lot of demand in the marketplace to renew it.”

NBCU is expected to finally land renewals for the Endemol Shine-produced Steve Harvey, but the lack of a new talent deal with Harvey has slowed the process. The Steve Harvey Show is only renewed on stations through the end of this season, although Harvey himself is renewed through next year. NBC’s shift of Harvey to 2 p.m. in top markets in order to make room for local newscasts at 4 p.m. also means that the station group will want to pay lower license fees for the show, which in turn will lower the amount Endemol Shine can offer Harvey.

Conversely, Harvey is renewed through 2021 to host Family Feud, and Debmar-Mercury is in the market securing renewals for that highly successful game show. Both of CTD’s game leaders Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are renewed through the 2017-18 season, while Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’s contracts are up at the end of next season.

Tribune is expected to renew Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, now in its second season. One reason for that is because Tribune is looking for ways to eventually replace its conflict talkers. All three of those NBCUniversal-produced shows—Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos—are renewed through 2017-18, but ratings are drifting downward and none of those hosts are getting any younger. Maury host Maury Povich will celebrate his 77th birthday Jan. 17.

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.