Syndication Makes Way for ‘Kelly Clarkson,’ ‘Tamron Hall’

Why This Matters: The 2019 syndication landscape is becoming clear very early as several shows vie for slots.

It’s barely October and already two talk shows have been cleared on major station groups for fall 2019: Disney-ABC Domestic Television’s Tamron Hall and NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution’s Kelly Clarkson.

Waiting in the wings is Warner Bros.’ RuPaul, which is hoping to score clearances on either the Fox or Tribune Broadcasting station groups to assure carriage in the top three markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Neither station group has decided what they might pick up for next year. Tribune is still coming off the dissolution of its planned acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group. Fox has room for at least one new show — after NBCU’s Harry ended, Fox opted not to pick anything up to fill the time slot.

The sudden glut of shows feels like something of a feast to starved TV programmers. “Everyone is excited that they have options this year,” one syndication executive said.

Disney-ABC said Tamron Hall’s experience is what will make her attractive to viewers. “Tamron is somebody who has demonstrated an exceptional ability to connect with the daytime audience on a number of different levels,” Jed Cohen, executive VP and general sales manager, U.S. content sales and distribution, Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, said. “Her authenticity, relatability, credibility, likeability, trustworthiness -— there’s a lot there for an audience to connect with.”

“The appeal of Tamron is that she’s refreshingly honest,” said Wendy McMahon, president, ABC Owned Television Stations Group. She’s approachable … she’s real. And that enables her to connect on a truly personal level.”

As for Clarkson: “Our customers told us they wanted a vibrant, relatable talker who wanted to be on air for 20 years,” NBC Entertainment co-chairman Paul Telegdy said. “Kelly has a lightning-quick wit and a work rate that is like nobody else.”

Other syndicators are also working on shows ostensibly for 2019, such as CBS Television Distribution’s talk show starring Dr. Steve Perry, who calls himself America’s Educator; Endemol Shine North America’s development efforts both with Essence and radio personality Angie Martinez; and Debmar-Mercury’s two projects, one with Jaime Pressly and Finesse Mitchell and another with Jerry O’Connell.

Other studios, such as Sony Pictures Television, also have projects in the works. With two big shows already sold to top station groups and a third being shopped, opportunities to launch more new projects are slimming, though.

Comings and Goings

The arrival of Hall and Clarkson likely means the departure of existing shows.

On the ABC stations, the most likely candidates to be bumped are CBS Television Distribution’s Rachael Ray or the one-hour combination of RightThisMinute and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Other syndicated shows, such as SPT’s Dr. Oz or CTD’s Inside Edition, air in daytime on one or two of the ABC-owned stations as well, while CTD’s Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! air mostly in access.

Rachael Ray, which is renewed through this season, only airs on three ABC-owned stations: WABC New York, WPVI Philadelphia and WTVD Raleigh, N.C. CTD already has begun to renew that show, which does particularly well with branded integrations, on stations across the country.

RightThisMinute, a viral video show that is produced by Phoenix-based Magic Dust and distributed by Disney- ABC, and Millionaire, which is produced and distributed by Disney-ABC, air on all eight of the stations. The other syndicated slot available is occupied by Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Ryan, but as the No. 2-rated talk show it’s not in any danger.

NBC already has said it is giving the 2 p.m. lead-in to Warner Bros.’ The Ellen De- Generes Show to Clarkson, whose show will displace Steve, starring Steve Harvey.

“Kelly Clarkson is warm and genuine,” NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations president Valari Staab said. “People of all ages can relate to her openness, honesty and personal story. She will be the perfect lead-in to Ellen.”

Neither NBC nor Steve’s production company, IMG, has said that Steve will not return — and Harvey has adroitly managed to keep his show on the air thus far, moving it from Chicago to Los Angeles and changing production companies. But at the moment the show’s future is unclear.

IMG is considering options for the show, including syndication or somewhere like Netflix or Amazon, according to sources. Harvey personally owns a significant portion of the daytime talker, which gives him options in terms of its distribution.

Although giving both Hall and Clarkson the ABC and NBC owned-and-operated station groups as launch pads almost guarantees that both shows will go forward, both sales teams still have to clear the shows on affiliates across the country before they can be declared firm gos for fall 2019. That said, that’s expected to happen.

Season Kickoff

Meanwhile, the 2018-19 TV season is underway, with two new first-run shows premiering: CTD’s panel talker Face the Truth, starring Vivica A. Fox, and Debmar-Mercury’s Caught in Providence.

Face the Truth opened at a 0.8 live-plus-same-day national household rating, according to Nielsen, and held that number in its second week. The show appears to be trending upward so far.

Caught in Providence premiered Sept. 24 and hasn’t been on the air long enough to garner a national rating, although it averaged a 0.3 rating/1 share in metered markets in its first week on the air. That’s down 25% from its lead-in and off 40% from its year-ago time period averages. The show is overperforming that average thus far in New York, Phoenix, Seattle, Orlando and Raleigh, N.C.

Three off-net shows have premiered as well: SPT’s off-A&E Live PD: Police Patrol began its run at a 1.0, while the off-ID True Crime Files stayed at a 0.3 in its second outing. Disney-ABC’s off-net sitcom Black-ish opened at a 1.0 in households.

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.