Katie Couric led the new talk shows with a 2.0 rating, which represents an average of 2.5 million viewers a day, according to national ratings for the week of Sept. 10-16 released Tuesday.
However, while Katie beat Steve Harvey’s 1.2 household rating - 1.7 million viewers a day on average - the case can be made that it is the African American stand up comic, author, radio host and game show star whose daytime career is catching on. Not only has Harvey’s new talk show proven a steady performer since its Sept. 4 premiere, but he has also seen a ratings lift on the second syndie show he hosts, Family Feud.
Starting its 14th season (the half-hour strip started its current syndication run in the 1999-2000 season), Family Feud ranks fourth among all first-run shows, trailing only Judge Judy (6.3, 8.6 million viewers), Wheel of Fortune (5.9, 8.8 million viewers) and Jeopardy (4.8, 7 million viewers).
Feud ratings rose 50 percent from last season’s debut to a 3.9 in households. Among the key demo of women 25-54, Feud ratings jumped 46% to 1.9 to surpass Jeopardy (1.5) and tie Wheel of Fortune. Feud also is up 30% over its average rating last year of a 3.0.
Distributed by Lionsgate division Debmar-Mercury and produced by Fremantle Media North America, Feud ratings for its opening week are the best since the week of March 9, 1992. Feud has seen ratings gains ever since Harvey joined as host in September 2010.
Part of those increases are about Harvey’s appeal and the huge wave of publicity he is riding as NBC launches his daily talker, but it also has to do with what Debmar-Mercury has done behind the scenes. They have swapped stations to improve the time periods where Feud airs, positioning it between 5 and 8 p.m. where big off-network series are shown and a few first run series have dominated for years.
From only a few stations in past years, Feud will air during the prime access period in 70 percent of its national lineup this season. It is already set to air at least through 2015.
Harvey also does a daily radio talk show, has written best selling books and been involved with hit movies. At this point his popularity seems to be lifting all boats.
The top syndicated performer among the key demo of women 25 to 54 was Ellen, whose Warner Bros. show had its biggest premiere ever as it begins its 10th season. It was second among talk shows in households (2.5, up a smart 56 percent from the prior week), second only to Dr. Phil, who had a 2.6 rating, down 33 percent from last year’s premiere week when he had Casey Anthony’s parents.
While Katie had the best premiere for a talk show since Dr. Oz in 2009, there is concern that her ratings among women 25 to 54 are soft. For her premiere week she ranked sixth among talkers in the demo behind Ellen, Live With Kelly and Michael, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and the durable conflict talker Maury.Live With Kelly and Michael cooled a bit in the second week for the new team and is now down 4 percent from last year.
Sony’s Dr. Oz had a solid start to its fourth year landing in a third place tie among talk shows in the key female demo (1.2, tied with Dr. Phil) and third among all talk shows (2.4 rating), tied in total households with Live With Kelly and Michael. However, Dr. Oz’s premiere week was down 17 percent from a year earlier.
Anderson Live,which has also been re-invented, premièred with an unimpressive 1.0, which tied it with Wendy Williams. Anderson’s talk show is down about 40 percent from premiere week last year.
The new Ricki Lake Show was conspicuously absent from the first week national ratings because her audience calculation is being “reprocessed” by Nielsen, apparently at the request of 20th TV after they discovered the ratings service was not including every single station in the U.S. Ricki is on. That means the ratings for the week of Sept. 10 won’t come out for at least another week,.
Ricki, who is struggling along with Jeff Probst to find an audience, has also seen her numbers hurt because of the Tribune-Cablevision dispute in the largest U.S. media market, New York City, where 40 percent of the homes don’t have access to the show.