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'TD Jakes' Heads Out for Sale

After concluding its four-week test, Debmar-Mercury will take talk show T.D. Jakes out for sale with the intention of clearing it for a national launch next fall, according to copresidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein.

“The last two weeks were the highest rated of this test,” said Bernstein, “and would you rather have a show where the arrows were going up or going down?”

The Jakes test started somewhat slow, but showed significant growth over its run. According to Debmar-Mercury, T.D. Jakes grew by 33% in households, 157% among women 25-54 and 160% among adults 25-54 from start to finish across its four Tegna markets—WFAA Dallas, WXIA Atlanta, KARE Minneapolis and WKYC Cleveland. Due to that growth, Debmar-Mercury feels stations should give the show a shot next fall.

“I’m extremely proud of the quality of the 20 programs that we turned around in pretty short order,” said Bob Sullivan, senior VP at Tegna, which partnered with Debmar-Mercury on the test. “Our belief in him going into the test grew as we developed the program throughout the four weeks. We think he’s a unique talent, who offers a clear point of difference in the market.”

Sullivan couldn’t say yet if Tegna will pick up the show across its station group, but he reiterated the company’s commitment to the project. “If Debmar-Mercury can get it green-lit nationally, Tegna is committed to clearing it where we can.”

While T. D. Jakes didn’t air in any of the country’s largest markets, the fact that Debmar-Mercury now has 20 episodes and four weeks of shows to take to the market should make a difference, said Marcus.

“We’re going to bring stations episodes and ratings, and ask them to watch the show,” said Marcus. “We’ll have a sales tape so stations can get to know who T.D. Jakes is, and we’ll show them the research and hope that stations around the country, including in the large markets, give the show a shot.”

Jakes joins The Daily Mail, coming from Dr. Phil and Jay McGraw, as definite syndicated offerings for 2016. Other shows in development include this summer’s two other tests: Warner Bros.’ Ice and Coco, which hasn’t been confirmed yet for next fall, although it did well in its summer test; and Fox Television Stations’ Boris and Nicole, also not confirmed to go forward. And NBCUniversal has a talk show with Harry Connick Jr. in the works on which the studio is very high.

Which stations and time slots Debmar-Mercury will target with Jakes is unclear, although there are plenty of opportunities for next fall. This year’s crop of shows has just debuted, so it’s still early to discern stations’ needs, but Marcus and Bernstein feel Jakes can work on affiliates and independents, in morning or afternoon time slots.

Jakes hails from Dallas, where he’s a bishop at mega-church The Potter’s House and where he hosts a huge spiritual gathering every other year called Mega-Fest.

On WFAA Dallas at 3 p.m., the show grew to a 0.9 rating/5 share from a 0.3/2 among women 25-54 over the four-week test. It also grew in that market by 360% among adults 25-54, according to Debmar. Compared to last year, when repeats of Disney-ABC’s Katie aired in the time slot, T.D. Jakes was up 24% in households, 171% among women 25-54 and 219% among adults 25-54.

On WXIA Atlanta at 2 p.m., Jakes grew 78% in households, climbing to a 1.0/3 from a 0.6/2, and 48% among both women 25-54 and adults 25-54. Compared to last year when the station was airing repeats of CTD’s Rachael Ray, Jakes was up 158% in households, 104% among women 25-54 and 188% among adults 25-54.

On KARE Minneapolis at 2 p.m., Jakes grew 26% in households, 144% among women 25-54 and 297% in adults 25-54.

And on WKYC Cleveland at 4 p.m., the show improved by 41% in households, 138% among women 25-54 and 89% among adults 25-54.

T.D. Jakes is executive produced by 44 Blue Production’s president and cofounder Stephanie Noonan Drachkovitch, Jakes, Derrick Williams and producer Adriane Hopper Williams. Gail Steinberg and Jack Mori are showrunners.


After a week of season premieres, Disney-ABC’s FABLife remains the toprated new strip in households, closely followed by Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily.

Lifestyle panel FABLife, cleared on all eight ABCowned stations, scored a 1.0 rating/3 share primary-run household average across 54 metered markets, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The Tyra Banks-starrer finished first or second in its time period in five of its top eight markets and posted its best large-market gains on KGO San Francisco, where it took the station’s year-ago 3 p.m. time period up 50% from last year at this time to a 1.2/5.

True-crime strip Crime Watch Daily, cleared on Tribune-owned stations, averaged a 0.8/2 across 55 metered markets.

Crime Watch’s strongest performance came on KTVI St. Louis, where it improved its 2 p.m. time period by 32% over last year to a 2.5/8.

NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk, which is mainly cleared on independent stations, averaged a 0.3/1 across its 56 metered markets.

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.