'The Real' Beating Meredith Vieira's Talk Show in Daytime Ratings In Key Demos

The talk show featuring five ethnically diverse women also is attracting a younger audience than its rivals
 Courtesy of Warner Bros.

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The Real is looking like the real thing.

The Warner Bros. talk show featuring five ethnically diverse women has blasted out of the gate with a 0.7 rating among women 25-to-54 (the key daytime demo). That's is as good as or better than all of the half-dozen new entrants, including Meredith Vieira's talk show.

The Real also is attracting a younger audience than its new rivals: Viewers' average age is 45 (compared with 61 for NBC's Meredith), younger than for any of the top 10 syndicated talk shows.

The show premiered Sept. 15 as an alternative to The View or The Talk, offering younger hosts from varied backgrounds. The hosts are Tamar Braxton, Loni Love, Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley.

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While The Real's total household numbers are lower than Meredith's (1.0 vs 1.2), what matters to ad buyers is its strength in women 18-to-34, 18-to-49 and 25-to-54.

In females 18-to-34, as of Oct. 10, The Real had a rating of 0.7, compared with 0.3 for Meredith. In females 18-to-49, The Real again scored a 0.7, compared with 0.4 for Meredith.

And The Real is working even though it airs on independent or B-level stations in much of the country. While Meredith runs on strong network affiliates in 87 percent of major markets (anchored on the NBC stations), The Real is on network affiliates in only 12 percent of big markets. (However, that includes Fox stations in the largest cities.).

The Fox Stations have played a key role in the creation and success of the show along with producer Warner Bros. In July 2013, The Real got a test run on seven Fox stations in major markets including New York, Los Angeles and Houston. It was success during that test that led to a national launch this fall.

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In its first weeks, The Real has improved the ratings in its time period compared to the prior year in all of the key demos. It is up 20 percent in women 18 to 34; up 17 percent in women 18 to 49; and up 14 percent among women 25 to 54.

One secret of its success? In 14 major markets, The Real benefits from following The Wendy Williams Show, which is off to an especially hot start.

Wendy, distributed by Debmar-Mercury, also has a lower than usual median age among viewers of 52.

Both hours are tapping into an increasingly diverse daytime audience, one that traditional talk shows have yet to fully serve. That audience reflects the changing demographics in the U.S., where African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and other groups have grown in proportion to the white population.

"Based on the composition of the panel," says Bill Carroll, vp and director of programming for the Katz Television Group, "the thought always was that it would be younger and that it would be targeted to a more diverse ethnic audience."

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"We've got the rainbow coalition, if you will," says Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution. "That multicultural audience is looking for something fresh with a different point of view, and this is what we are giving them."

"It's so difficult to get young viewers on broadcast television," says Brad Adgate, senior vp research at Horizon Media, "especially in daytime where there are so many choices. If you can get a show that has appeal to those really hard to reach young viewers, you have hit a home run."

UPDATE - 10/15 11 a.m. pst - The headline was changed to reflect The Real is beating Meredith in key female demographics but not in total households.

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