Is “Katie” on the ropes?

KatieCould Katie get knocked out of the daytime talk show ring before the end of her second season?

Another report has surfaced over the increasingly iffy future of Katie Couric’s daytime talk show, which airs in predominantly early fringe time slots on most ABC affiliates. Fox News is reporting that ABC Syndication is looking for a replacement when Couric’s talk show contract comes up in 2014.

Last week, Broadcasting & Cable reported several names were being floated to replace Couric, including Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts.

The assessment of Katie’s future from industry execs have been indeed harsh. One studio exec told Fox News this: “It’s an unmitigated disaster -one of the biggest failures ever in syndication. Terrible ratings, no growth, shouldn’t be on the air. Where did it miss the mark? Let’s start with her, she is dreadfully boring. The show offers nothing new to the audience, nothing to say.”

Ouch. This would put Katie in the same league as Thicke of the Night, America, and USA Today on TV: three big-budget syndicated bombs from the ’80’s (and residents of The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame, where Katie will soon be a member.) In recent years, Katie would be comparable to Dr. Laura (2000-01) and The Jane Pauley Show (2004-05).

While the Fox News article notes that Katie had been renewed for a second season in 95 percent of the country, keep in mind Katie was originally sold to stations in two-year deals, which expire in September 2014. Approximately two years ago, yours truly called Couric’s talk show deal one of the worst in history, made through vertical integration and the most ambitious one yet in the post-financial interest and syndication rules era. I said this about Couric’s hire in 2011: “No point investing in fresh new talent when you can grab today’s has-beens, thrust them in front of and behind the camera, and call this bullshit a success with a 1.0 rating.”

Well, I was only off by .6 of a ratings point.

During the May 2013 sweeps, Katie earned a 1.6 rating/5 share in households, down 30 percent from last year’s time periods. Airing at 3 p.m. in Chicago on WLS-TV, Katie has drawn lower ratings than Inside Edition and Jeopardy, two shows who were in those time slots for more than two decades.

Perhaps Katie’s questionable future is one of the reasons why WLS has yet to make a decision on where to place local talk show Windy City Live next season, which currently airs at 9 a.m. During the May sweeps, WCL drew a 3.1/11 in households, easily winning its timeslot, obviously higher than what Katie had been earning at 3 p.m.

In September, ABC Syndication’s Live With Kelly & Michael moves into the 9 a.m. time slot from WGN-TV, which means WCL would have to move – either to 11 a.m., replacing a midday newscast – or to 3 p.m. replacing Katie, which would regulate it to midnight (a same-day repeat currently runs at 1:06 a.m.) With Katie entering what looks to be more and more like a lame-duck second season, this scenario isn’t too far fetched.

Given this, yours truly is repeating what he said last week – look for the curtain to come down on Katie after next season. It’s pretty much a given at this point. But no matter what happens with her show, Couric is expected to stay with ABC through the end of her contract.

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