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Syndies Won't Stop Seeking Youth

Know any viewers between the ages of 18 and 34? Finding the elusive young viewer is getting to be the preoccupation of prime time programmers, but syndicators are also scheming to woo that demo.

In January, Twentieth Television is launching On Air With Ryan Seacrest, and Universal has a new show that seems designed to be a younger version of ABC's The View
on tap for fall 2004. Universal's still-untitled youth-oriented show will be produced by Jennifer Lopez's production company, Nuyorican, and will feature her sister, Lynda Lopez. J Lo will appear occasionally on the day-and-date show, although she won't be on as often as Barbara Walters graces ABC's The View.

Actually, there are slightly more 18-34 adults watching daytime than there were a decade ago; they make up 12.4% of the total daytime audience. That's not the daytime core audience, but it's a young crowd advertisers want.

and the new Lopez show are targeting them, although Universal is secondarily shooting for women 18-49 and Twentieth wouldn't mind going a little younger and a little older.

Maybe they shouldn't even try. "There's no audience among 18-34s in daytime," says one industry executive. "The only show that people 18-34 sit down to watch in daytime is Oprah. Women that age are either working or taking care of their kids."

But Jim Paratore, executive vice president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and president of Telepictures Productions, says: "There are a lot of young adults who have flexible schedules, who work part-time or work at home. That changes the complexion of the TV audience. When you look at daytime, less than half of the viewers watching are traditional moms staying home to raise their kids."

To reach young adults, programmers need to create shows that aren't already on the air in some format, bucking the TV trend to copy whatever is popular at the moment.

"There are lots of shows on TV that resonate with young viewers," says Robb Dalton, Twentieth's president of programming. "I don't think young viewers are giving up on television. They spend more time with TV than with any other medium. I still think we are a super-effective way to reach them. You just have to have the right combination of ingredients."

The Lopez project isn't the only new View
coming on the scene: Six weeks before Universal made its announcement last week, Sony Pictures Television said it is launching Life & Style
in fall 2004. The show, taped out of New York, will be hosted by Jules Asner, Cynthia Garrett, Lynne Koplitz and Kimora Lee Simmons.

With hosts whose median age is 36, Sony hopes to hit daytime's audience right in the bull's eye, going after the daypart's core audience: women 25-54 and 18-49.

"Women today are multitasking—they are raising kids and working—and they are seeking programming that reflects that world," says SPT Executive Vice President John Weiser. "That's why we are putting together a multi-host, multi-segment show with a strong emphasis on out-of-studio production. People are channel-surfing because they want to see something new every five minutes, and we thought it was important to do that in one show."

Sony's Ricki Lake
became a hit for the Fox stations a decade ago, when she was fresh from John Waters fame. And the younger audiences still turn out for Universal's Maury
and The Jerry Springer Show, both of which are cleared on the younger-skewing Tribune stations.

King World's The Oprah Winfrey Show
is the top show among women 18-34, with Maury
tied for third and Jerry Springer
tied for eighth. Among the new syndie first-runs, The Sharon Osbourne Show
wins among young women, followed by NBC Enterprises' Starting Over
and Warner Bros.' The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

While it's true that syndication doesn't have a show like Seacrest—a mix of talk, entertainment and variety—cable does: MTV's Total Request Live. Dalton says Seacrest
is not meant to be TRL, particularly because that show appeals strongly to teens, but it will steal some elements.

Alan Freeman, one of Seacrest's executive producers, comes directly from TRL. And Twentieth is building a multimillion-dollar studio in Los Angeles' Hollywood & Highland complex where fans can walk by the set and wave signs and scream at their favorite stars, just like young fans do on Broadway in New York where TRL
is staged. Seacrest
also will feature live music performances, with two performance areas and a huge Jumbotron TV set at the complex.

With clearances on ABC-, CBS- and NBC-owned stations and affiliates as well as on Fox, WB and UPN stations, Dalton says, the show is demonstrating its appeal across demographics. "In early fringe, there are newscasts that reach people in their 40s, 50s and older, and there are sitcoms, which attract young people but aren't fresh because they are reruns. We will be a fresh face and a fresh alternative."

As for the Lopez project, Universal Domestic Television President Steve Rosenberg says, "It's true that there's not a lot on broadcast TV to attract young adults, but I think our shows are an indication of our ability to attract that audience by putting the right thing on the air."

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.