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This story first appeared in the June 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
In what has been a generally depressing season for syndicated daytime television, a handful of talk shows have bucked the trend. Phil McGraw‘s top-rated Dr. Phil is up about 9.8 percent in total viewers over last season and nearly 6 percent in the target demo of women 25-to-54. Live With Kelly and Michael also is a big winner, with total viewers up nearly 15 percent in the 2013-14 season over the prior year. Part of that boost is thanks to the arrival of Michael Strahan, who attracted more men 35-to-54 (up 17 percent) and lifted the African-American share of the audience from 3.5 percent to 4 percent.
Black viewers are becoming increasingly important — and not just for Live With Kelly & Michael. Both Steve Harvey and Wendy Williams, two talkers who saw year-over-year increases, also benefited by attracting African-Americans, who make up around 18 percent of the total daytime audience. One reason is that blacks watch more TV than other demo groups, an average of around 218 hours a month in 2013, according to a May 15 Nielsen study, compared to 155 hours per month for all viewers. That trend couldn’t help Arsenio Hall, whose late-night show was canceled May 30. But it boosted Ellen DeGeneres, whose talker was up 14 percent in viewers over the prior season, in part because black host Harvey, whose show continues to grow, is DeGeneres’ lead-in on NBC stations in big markets.
Most programs are down from the prior year due to audience fragmentation, time-shifting of primetime shows and pre-emptions for the Winter Olympics. Dr. Oz, which airs on NBC stations, was hit hard by the Sochi Games, dropping about 9 percent. The Doctors took a dive of nearly 6 percent, largely because the show lost stations and time periods, mostly to Queen Latifah, who has the most successful new talk show of the season, thanks in part to African-American audiences.
The syndication year runs through August, but data from September through May 11 provides a strong indication of how the season will end. Those same numbers weren’t kind to the now-canceled Katie, which dropped about 8 percent in Katie Couric‘s second season.
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