Bethenny Frankel Talk Show Nears National Syndication Pickup

"Bethenny Frankel"
"Bethenny Frankel"
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The news about Warner Bros./Telepictures' Bethenny Frankel talk show is bullish, but reports that the show will be locked in for national syndication beginning in fall 2013 as soon as next week are bull, according to sources at Fox TV stations.

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“A decision has not yet been made,” a Fox TV stations spokesperson said adamantly Friday.

Other sources close to Fox said no decision or announcement would be made until after Bethenny's full six-week test run, which includes stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The show is in its fourth week of the test.

Warner Bros. Telepictures, which is producing Bethenny with Ellen DeGeneres and her team and will distribute in syndication if it goes forward, declined to comment.

Starring the former Real Housewives of New York favorite,  the talk show is airing on six Fox TV stations. Its performance so far has built a buzz about the show being almost certain for a full pickup.

The Fox stations have tested a number of talk shows during the summer in the past. Until Bethenny, the most successful test was forThe Wendy Williams Show in 2008. Her show produced by Debmar-Mercury did very well with the key female audience, was picked up and continues to run.

After three weeks, Bethenny is doing even better. It is beating Williams' test performance among females 25 to 54 by an impressive 43 percent (1.0 rating and 7 share of the viewing audience). And while Williams in her test drew 9 percent fewer viewers than the same time period had attracted a year earlier, Bethenny was outperforming her year-ago time periods by 38 percent as of the end of week three.

According to an analysis by Warner Bros., on the six stations, Bethenny is up 125 percent from the same time period a year earlier among women 18 to 49. In New York, she is up 200 percent in that demo compared with the performance of Dr. Oz in the same time period.

Across the six markets after three weeks, Bethenny had a 1.1 rating in households and 4 percent market share. In the women 18 to 54 demo, it posted a 1.0/10 -- up 233 percent in terms of audience share over the same time period in June 2011 and up 43 percent over its lead-in show.

That has many saying Bethenny will win a national rollout.

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“It’s logical given the performance of the show that they would pick up Bethenny for launch, probably in 2013,” says Bill Carroll, vp and director of programming for Katz Media. “It’s doing particularly well with younger female viewers.”

Those younger females are hard to get and highly coveted by advertisers.

“She has proved she has the chops to be able to do a Monday-through-Friday show,” adds Carroll. “Certainly, she’s a little bigger than life. She’s certainly not afraid of being edgy. She doesn’t shy away from the topics it appears that audience wants to talk about.”

Bethenny is doing best in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Minneapolis and less well in Dallas and Phoenix.

In terms of other new talk shows, none is officially greenlighted for launched for fall 2013. However, among those being actively discussed are a show from Sony Pictures Television that would star Queen Latifah and another from CBS Television Distribution to be fronted by Food Network stars Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay.

Of course, the field also is crowded with newcomers that are launching this fall and in many cases they have two-year deals that will take them into 2013. Among the most high-profile launches in September are Disney/ABC’s Katie, marking the return of Katie Couric, and Fox’s Ricki, featuring the return of Ricki Lake, who had success as a talk show host from 1993 to 2004.

There is also Anderson, the Warner Bros. show starring CNN’s Anderson Cooper, which returns in the fall for a second year with a stronger station lineup, including a move from Tribune to Fox stations in New York and other big cities. It also will sport a new studio that will allow more flexibility to do timely shows and a plan was recently announced to pair him up with rotating co-hosts each week.

Of course, even the top talk shows will still take a back seat in the ratings to top sitcoms headed to syndication. The hot topic this summer is where Warner Bros.2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly will land in syndication after 2014 and 2015, respectively. Both already have been picked up for basic cable runs -- Broke Girls on TBS and Molly on FX -- but talks with local broadcasters about the syndicated runs are just heating up.

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The two sitcoms, which air in first run on CBS, have already been acquired in the New York market by the CBS duopoly and elsewhere. CBS Television Stations will air the comedies in New York (WLNY), Los Angeles (KCAL), Boston (WSBK), Dallas (KTXA) and Atlanta (WUPA). Weigel stations have acquired syndication rights in Chicago (WCIU) and Milwaukee (WDJT/WMLW).

Now the question is where they will land on local stations in the rest of the country, which is more than 60 percent of U.S. TV homes.

With Anger Management scoring big numbers on FX, the new Charlie Sheen sitcom appears likely to get a full 100-episode order, which will put it in the thick of the race for syndication space for fall 2014. “If you have had success with Two and a Half Men,” says Carroll, “you can’t ignore another Charlie Sheen sitcom.”

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