For Syndication Stars, A Wild Range of 2016 Fortunes

For a segment of the TV business that’s generally considered quiet, the daytime TV and distribution beat boasted some incredibly juicy stories in 2016. And the No. 1 item leads all the way to the president-elect.

For Billy Bush, It’s Here Today Gone…Today

Many people thought Donald Trump’s campaign was over when an Access Hollywood video leaked featuring Trump bragging to the show’s cohost Billy Bush about how he approaches women.

“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them,” Trump says in the video, which captured audio on a hot microphone. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p---y.”

While Trump went on to overcome that bad PR to win the presidency, Bush’s rep took a hit because he egged Trump on and did nothing to show any objections to his behavior. Today brass quickly determined they had to banish Bush from his dream job just three months after he arrived.

Strahan Vaults From Live to GMA

A close second to the Bush story was that of Michael Strahan leaving Disney-ABC’s Live With Kelly and Michael, causing cohost Kelly Ripa to stage a several-day sick-out in protest. When she returned, she jokingly declared, “our long national nightmare is over.”

In April, the story broke that Strahan would be leaving Live to take a permanent role at ABC’s Good Morning America, where he had already been moonlighting. Originally, the plan was for Strahan to stay on at Live through the summer and then transition to GMA in the fall, but by then the relationship between the two was so frayed that the decision was made for Strahan to depart on May 13.

Since then, Live With Kelly has gone on to feature more than 50 guest cohosts, with the show not seeming to be in any hurry on naming a permanent seatmate for Ripa.

Harry Launches on Fox-Owned Stations

The only first-run show to launch in national syndication this year was Harry, produced and distributed by NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution. The industry was surprised when the Fox station group acquired the show instead of the NBC station group, which then launched new local newscasts at 4 p.m. in several top markets.

Harry, starring Harry Connick Jr., launched in September with high hopes, but those hopes quickly fell to earth with the expensive talker eking out a 1.2 household rating average in the three months it’s been on the air.

In late November, Fox moved the show up to 2 p.m. in four markets—WNYW New York, KTTV Los Angeles, WFLD Chicago and KTVU San Francisco— in hopes of growing its ratings in less competitive time slots.

Steve Harvey to Star In New L.A.-Based Talker

Even before NATPE 2016, rumors were flying that Harvey wanted to move his talk show to Los Angeles. But the deal to uproot his show from Chicago where it was produced at the studio of NBC-owned WMAQ did not come easy. Finally, news broke in November that WME-IMG would take over production of the show from Endemol Shine, producing a new daytime talk show starring Harvey that would be shot in Los Angeles and focus on celebrities. NBCU is remaining on board as the new show’s distributor, and it will continue airing at 2 p.m. on NBC’s owned stations.

Franklin Named President Of CBS Television Distribution

Just days after taking 21st Century Fox’s buyout, Paul Franklin popped right back up again as the new president of CTD. The distributor had been without an executive in that position since John Nogawski left in 2012, and distribution until that point reported to Armando Nuñez, head of CBS Studios International.

Swindler Leaves NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution

After NBCUniversal went through a reorganization that saw NBC Broadcast chairman Ted Harbert leave the company in September, Ed Swindler informed his staff in early December that he too was on his way out the door. For now, NBCU DTD will report in to Paul Telegdy, chief of NBC alternative programming, and George Cheeks, president of business operations and late-night programming.

Bessey Departs as EP for ET, The Insider

After working for years to secure himself the top producer’s slot at the shows where he came up, Brad Bessey in August left both Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. In the interim, he was replaced by Rick Joyce, who remains coexecutive producer of both shows. Sharon Hoffman was named permanent EP of both shows in November and officially started on Dec. 1.

Celebrity Name Game Ends After Season Three

Originally developed to air in tandem with Family Feud, Celebrity Name Game was sold by Debmar- Mercury to highest-bidder Tribune even though the group didn’t air Feud in many markets. That decision may have been good in the short run but less so in the long run, with Name Game never really finding its footing, ratings-wise.

Crime Watch Daily Finds New Host in Hansen

Just before the launch of the show’s second season, Crime Watch Daily announced that former Dateline correspondent Chris Hansen would join as host, with his name added to the title and his signature “To Catch a Predator” segments becoming part of the action. So far, the move has seemed to pay off, with Crime Watch Daily up 11% over season one in the recently concluded November sweeps.

Fox, Endemol Shine Shop Page Six TV

After airing the news magazine as a test over the summer, the Fox owned stations and Endemol Shine decided to give the show a shot in national syndication. At this point, Page Six TV may be the only new national entry for 2017.

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.