Regis Philblin’s departure from Live with Regis & Kelly on Friday drew big ratings for Tribune-owned CW affiliate WGN-TV.
According to numbers obtained from Marc Berman at TV Media Insights, WGN scored a 6.9 Nielsen household rating and a 22 share with Regis’ farewell, and coasted past ABC-owned WLS-TV’s local morning show Windy City Live, which replaced departing The Oprah Winfrey Show in May.
On ABC-owned WABC-TV, the finale averaged a 8.5/28, but was outranked by sister station WPVI in Philadelphia, which drew a 9.7/31. KABC-TV in Los Angeles drew a 6.4/21 while Fox’s KDFW in Dallas scored a 5.3/19.
In Nielsen’s 56 metered markets (which includes Chicago and Milwaukee), the Regis & Kelly finale averaged a 7.0/23.
There is controversy regarding on exactly how Regis Philbin left his daily talk show – some say he was retiring, but Mr. Philbin insisted he was pushed out by Disney brass because he wouldn’t accept a cut in pay. Philbin has hosted the series when it was known as The Morning Show on WABC in 1983, and became Live with Regis & Kathie Lee upon its national launch in 1988 (Kathie Lee Gifford was Philbin’s co-host from June 24, 1985 to July 28, 2000.) Kelly Ripa (an All My Children alumnus) became the new co-host on February 5, 2001.
The Chicago number is remarkable given the struggles his show has had in the Chicago market, particularly up against Oprah. Live With Regis & Kathie Lee wasn’t shown in the Windy City until April 1990, when Fox-owned WFLD-TV purchased the show. In 1991, it moved to an overnight time slot on ABC-owned WLS-TV until CBS-owned WBBM-TV picked the show up in January 1993 to air opposite The Oprah Winfrey Show. The show moved to WGN-TV in 1995, back to WFLD in 1997 and returned to the overnight shift at WLS again in 1999. Regis & Kelly moved back to WGN in 2002, where its been since (yeah, I’m surprised I remember all of this, too – they don’t call me a media geek for nothing.)
Similar to the gap between the Gifford and Ripa eras, no permanent co-host is being named for now. The first guest co-host for the now-renamed Live! With Kelly show is comedian Jerry Seinfeld, from November 21-23. Live! With Kelly will continue to air on WGN.