One unlikely name to surface among syndicated TV programs whose future is questionable is…. Steve Harvey?
According to Broadcasting and Cable, syndicator NBCUniversal, Emendol USA, and Harvey are negotiating on a contract renewal for his talk show beyond next season. Harvey’s contract with NBCU doesn’t expire until 2017, but local stations’ pact to carry the show does expire this coming September. NBCU wants a deal done before the NATPE convention convenes in January.
Harvey reportedly wants a pay raise and also wants to move the show to Hollywood to attract more celebrities. Currently, Harvey’s show tapes at the NBC Tower in Chicago, home to NBC-owned WMAQ-TV and soon to be home to Cumulus’ cluster of radio stations. It also houses another syndicated show, Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis.
However, NBCUniversal said the plan to move would be cost-prohibitive, even though two other NBCU talkers (Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos) moved from the NBC Tower in 2009 to Stamford, CT to take advantage of tax credits provided by the state.
This comes as The Wrap featured a story Wednesday on how Chicago is becoming a hot place for TV production – a positive headline published weeks after wave after wave of negative press has battered the city. Four prime-time shows are shot here – three of them are Dick Wolf Shows: Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and the recently launched Chicago Med, all produced by NBCUniversal (a fourth, Empire, is produced by Twentieth Television.)
The tougher-than-expected negotiations comes as some dents are starting to appear in the armor of Harvey’s show. In a recent ratings report, Harvey tied for seventh place among daytime talk shows in the key female 25-54 demo, down 11 percent from last year. According to the B&C article, many stations want to use the ratings slip as a reason to shift the show to an earlier time period, where HUT levels are lower – which would cut licensing fees.
In Chicago, WMAQ carries Harvey at 2 p.m. and according to some reports, finished not only behind ABC’s General Hospital in the ratings, but also CW’s Bill Cunningham Show on WGN.
Also, several NBC-owned stations want to launch 4 p.m. newscasts this fall (as first reported by FTV Live last month) which would require them to move Warner Bros.’ Ellen and Harvey at least an hour earlier – especially in New York and Los Angeles, but contractual obligations make such a move complicated. No such move would happen in Chicago since Harvey and Ellen already air from 2 to 4 p.m. respectively, but Warner Bros.’ Extra would likely lose its 4 p.m. slot on WMAQ.
While Harvey is still a decent ratings performer, there is precedent regarding negotiations gone wrong: three years ago, CBS Television Distribution reached an impasse with Joe Brown in negotiations to renew his pact to stay with his courtroom show, Judge Joe Brown. As a result, CBS canceled the program after fifteen seasons, despite ranking a strong second to sister show Judge Judy in the courtroom genre.
Harvey’s other syndicated show (Family Feud) isn’t affected by the negotiations, as the show is handled by another syndicator and whose deal is separate from his talk show. Harvey is signed through 2021, and continues to be produced in Atlanta.