'TMZ Live' Gets Roll Out On Fox Stations

TMZ creator Harvey Levin

UPDATED: After starting online and being tested by a few Fox TV stations, the one hour companion show to TMZ.com will expand to more Fox stations and be available nationally from Warner Bros.

Blazing a new path to broadcast television distribution, TMZ Live, the companion show to the TMZ.com entertainment magazine show, has been picked up for distribution on 17 Fox-owned TV stations, it was announced Thursday by Ken Werner, president, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Frank Cicha, senior vp, programming, Fox TV Stations.

The one-hour live chat features TMZ staff, led by creator Harvey Levin, discussing the news of the day. While the original show tries to be funny, TMZ Live is more about discussing and arguing about the news content.

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It also combines elements from the TMZ website and occasional celebrity visits. It tries to interact with viewers who are online, using Skype, Twitter and their smart phones. Warner Bros. hopes to position it as a new kind of talk show. 

TMZ Live has been a work in progress for three years,” said Levin, creator of TMZ.  “We’re trying to blend TV and the Internet by taking assets from both and seamlessly weaving them into a global conversation.”

“The distribution roll-out of TMZ Live is as unconventional and unique as the show itself,” Werner added. “What incubated online expanded to one television market, then two, seven and now 17.”

While Warner Bros. will make TMZ Live available to stations outside the Fox markets beginning in Fall 2013 if they ante up as much cash as Fox is paying, they are not going to do an aggressive syndication launch at this time. Instead, they hope that the show will continue to develop, the audience will continue to grow and it will become a hot property.

If all goes well, then Warner Bros. will aggressively market it in syndication for fall 2014, possibly switching to a more traditional barter model that will require a much wider distribution pattern than it will have in the coming fall. .To get it for fall 2013, stations will have to  pay a cash fee andin return will get 15 minutes of commercial time in each hour.

So far TMZ has hit all the marks that Warner has set for it. According to Warner Bros.' research in the announcement, TMZ Live has had impressive results, boosting ratings in six of the first seven markets in which it has appeared on Fox stations. During the recent November sweeps, the show increased viewership by adults 25 to 54 years of age in Los Angeles by 67 percent compared to what was in that time period previously. It was up 33 percent in Boston and 77 percent in Detroit.

After it was deemed a success in Los Angeles, the show expanded to other Fox stations. It launched in June on KSAZ, the Fox station in Phoenix. Then in October, Fox expanded the series to additional stations in Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Minneapolis.

Now, TMZ Live will expand in September 2013 to WNYW in New York City and Fox stations in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Houston, Tampa and Orlando.

TMZ Live is a truly distinctive and entertaining take on the daily talk show. It is what TMZ does best, offering a topical, fast-paced and viewer interactive format with a fun and honest point of view on the stories people are talking about," said Hilary Estey McLoughlin, President, Telepictures.