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Three Fox O&Os Get ‘Better’

Fox’s owned stations in Chicago, Houston and Orlando are on board with Meredith’s syndicated Better program for fall, bringing the number of Better affiliates to 63 as the daytime lifestyle show will reach nearly 50% of U.S. households come September.

In addition to renewals from the likes of Belo, Journal, New Age Media and Gray, Meredith added Sinclair stations in Pittsburgh, Greensboro and Charleston to the Better mix. LIN renewed Better at 10 stations, while Tribune renewed it at WPHL Philadelphia.

Better launched three years ago, offering women tips on fashion, fitness and cooking, among other lighter topics, as well as product integration opportunities for partner stations. “After more than 600 episodes, more station groups want to be a part of our success because Better adds significant local dollars,” says Meredith Local Media Group President Paul Karpowicz. “More stations are turning to Better because of its longevity and proven track record.”

Meredith Video Studios Executive VP/General Manager Kieran Clarke says affiliate partners are seeking to replace the departing Bonnie Hunt Show and Martha Stewart Show for fall, and looking to fill a programming void when Oprah Winfrey makes her broadcast exit a year later. Research revealed that the viewer appetite for a light mix of variety programming in daytime is on the rise. “Executives have to make a decision now about what to acquire when Oprah goes away,” Clarke says.

Meredith is also shifting from a cash model to an all-barter one for fall, which Clarke says was encouraged from the affiliate side. “We think it’s the favorable way to go,” he says.

The hour-long show typically follows a station’s local morning news.

The Better model is unique in that it provides a pair of four-minute “holes” for partner stations to localize programming and to offer product integration opportunities to local vendors. Meredith also encourages stations to further customize the show by putting the market in the title—such as its own WSMV does with Better Nashville.

With production out of WFSB Hartford, Better plays to the strengths of its parent, which owns venerable women’s brands such as Family Circle and Ladies’ Home Journal. Three years after launching as a local show at KPTV Portland, Clarke says Better has “far exceeded” initial goals: “We look forward to clearing even more markets before the new season premieres.”