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Meredith Vieira entered the cut-throat daytime talk battleground on Monday with her new self-titled show. The former Today and The View host brought out a heavy-hitter guest in Jennifer Lopez and filled the hour with music, philanthropy and her signature candor. Viewers tuned in, lifting the syndicated talker’s time slot showings by 41 percent from a year ago, but it wasn’t exactly a smash.
Compared to the big launches of the the last two years, Queen Latifah (2013) and then-record-breaking Katie Couric (2012), the NBCUniversal Television Distribution Vieira Show came shy. She opened to a 0.6 rating in the targeted demographic of women 25-54 in the metered market primary run. Latifah last year earned a 0.9 rating among women in her first outing — and Couric, now canceled, scored a 1.6 rating the year prior.
Vieira was much more competitive among households, averaging a 1.7 rating and a 5 share. That puts her perfectly in line with Latifah, though still a far cry from Couric’s huge 2.8-rated opener that soon eroded.
For year-to-year time slot growth, Vieira’s 41 percent boost marked a best for the syndicated landscape since The Steve Harvey Show lifted his real estate by 50 percent in 2012. The show also won its time period in five of the top 20 markets: Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Miami and Sacramento.
One thing that could prove a big advantage to Vieira in the coming month is the lack of new traditional talk shows. Among the rest of this year’s freshman crop — The Real, Hot Bench, Celebrity Name Game — not a single fits her mold, and none premiere until Sept. 22. Recent years have seen a slew of talk shows launch simultaneously before thinning the herd. Bethenny Frankel, Ricki Lake and Jeff Probst all stumbled out of the gate before meeting their daytime demise.
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