I’m traveling this week, and just caught up with the excellent report out yesterday from Barclays Equity Research’s Anthony DiClemente about the boom in TV syndication – and the implications for companies including Apple that want to bust the pay TV oligopoly. He observes that “monetization opportunities for TV programming have never been greater.” Studios collectively generate about $20B a year now — up from $10B in 2002 — selling shows to TV stations, cable networks, VOD, online subscription services such as Netflix, overseas outlets, and via home video including DVDs. What’s more, the business provides Big Media companies with a higher return on invested capital — the most crucial metric for shareholders — than most other lines: For example, CBS makes a 14% return from its TV studio vs 12% for the entire company while News Corp sees a return of 10% (vs 7% for the company overall) and Time Warner generates 9% (vs. 7%).
EXCLUSIVE: Is fitness guru Jillian Michaels the next daytime talk show star? The popular Biggest Loser trainer has signed a multi-year deal to join the daytime syndicated talk show The Doctors as a co-host next season. Additionally, she will serve as a special correspondent on Dr. Phil. Both talk shows are distributed by CBS TV Distribution and executive produced by Phil McGraw. When she announced in December that she would leave The Biggest Loser after the current 11th season, Michaels tweeted that she was planning to “focus on becoming a mommy.” While that is still very much in the cards, Michaels said that she had been open to doing something in the daytime space. Since announcing her exit from Loser, she fielded multiple job offers but immediately sparked to the idea of joining The Doctors, created and exec produced by Jay McGraw, as well as Dr. Phil. “This was an opportunity to do something that I love and help so many people, so I couldn’t possibly pass it up,” said Michaels, who has appeared about a dozen times on The Doctors in the past three seasons. She also relishes the opportunity for “people to see the 360-degree version of me” vs. the somewhat “caricature” character that she plays on Loser, where she is known for being very tough on the contestants. “I will still take a tough-love approach when necessary, but this is a platform that will allow me to have a direct connection with the viewers and provide them with information, motivation and support.” Also appealing to Michaels was the chance to work with Phil McGraw, whom she called “the ultimate mentor” in daytime, especially with Oprah Winfrey leaving the arena later this month. While The Doctors started off as a show for advice from medical professionals, it has evolved, and recruiting Michaels is part of that, Jay McGraw said. “We’re broadening the type of information we are going to provide to viewers,” he said. “Jillian is the best at what she does and has the ability to form an incredible bond with the viewers.” Here is the release announcing Michaels’ new jobs:
Judge Judy star Judy Sheindlin is already poised to become the undisputed queen of daytime TV when Oprah Winfrey signs off later this month. Now Judge Judy producer CBS TV Distribution has moved in to try extend her reign with a new deal that will keep Sheindlin on the top-rated court show through 2015. “Judy is in a class by herself,” CTD president John Nogawski said. “For 15 years, she’s delivered one of the highest-rated shows in all of syndication. She’s at the top of her game, and we’re excited to be in business with daytime’s #1 star.” In its 15th season, Judge Judy is the most watched show in daytime television with an average of 10 million viewers. In the 2009-10 season, it finished No. 1, the first time any daytime program had surpassed Oprah in a decade. The 68-year-old recently had a health scare when she didn’t feel well during a taping of the show and was taken to the hospital for observation.
By interesting serendipity, the news about the final Oprah show and the new round of speculation that Katie Couric will most likely leave the CBS Evening News anchor chair in June came in within minutes of each other today. The coincidence is intriguing as Couric is touted as a potential successor to Oprah Winfrey as she is preparing for her next career as a daytime talk-show host.
Couric, of course, won’t be a direct replacement for Oprah, and not only because a whole year will separate Oprah’s exit from daytime and Couric’s expected arrival in fall 2012. Interestingly enough, Dr. Oz can claim that title. Of the 155 markets in which Oprah is not being replaced by a newscast, more than 80, including two of the Top 5, went with Dr. Oz in the Oprah slot, more than all other talk shows combined. As for ratings supremacy, Judge Judy, already beating Oprah on a regular basis, is expected to become the undisputed new daytime queen, with Dr. Phil and Ellen also poised to get a boost.
But Couric is the biggest name to hit daytime syndication since Jane Pauley in 2004, and the media frenzy over the move is understandable. From a station group perspective, the NBC O&Os have the most openings and seem the most eager to go after a Couric-hosted show. The NBC stations now carry reruns of Bravo’s The Real Housewives reality franchise. The deal is coming to an end, and industry insiders believe it won’t be renewed for next season. The stations may go with a show for next fall that would serve as a placeholder for Couric. Additionally, the NBC O&Os’ deal for Nate Berkus expires in the fall of 2012, which could create another opening. “They are a very likely candidate for a Katie Couric syndicated show,” one observer said of the NBC stations. On the production side, a high-profile project like a Katie Couric talker would be a shot in the arm for NBC’s anemic syndication division, which was behind the disastrous Pauley show and has not produced a talk show since another ill-fated attempt, The Megan Mullally Show, in 2006. I hear that new NBC Broadcast chairman Ted Harbert, who oversees both NBC’s station group and domestic syndication unit, has been spearheading efforts to woo former Today host Couric back to NBC, working with syndication veteran Ed Wilson, who has been advising Couric along with former NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker.
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