Kelly Clarkson, Tamron Hall start off strong

Judge Jerry, Later With Leon also debuted Monday

Two of the most talked about names in the last few months finally debuted Monday with NBCUniversal Television Distribution’s Kelly Clarkson and Disney-ABC Domestic Television’s Tamron Hall and both good of to good starts.

Clarkson earned an overnight live-day 1.9 household rating and 6 household share according to Nielsen while Hall earned a 1.4/5. Both shows scored the highest ratings for a talk show debut in seven years (when Katie Couric and Steve Harvey debuted) – remarkable given the increased fragmentation in the television marketplace.

The market achieving the highest rating was Nashville, where CBS affiliate WTVF drew a 5.9 household rating Monday and a 6.4 rating Tuesday. Clarkson and Hall each have a few some tough slots, including 2 a.m. at Atlanta’s WSB-TV and 3 a.m. at Pittsburgh’s WPXI while Hall is on overnights at WOAI San Antonio and isn’t on the air at all in Miami.

Clarkson is a lead-in to Ellen in most NBC-owned markets at 2 p.m. including Chicago, where the show airs on NBC 5 (WMAQ). On Tuesday, Ms. DeGeneres paid a surprise visit to Clarkson’s show.

Hall’s program won its time period at WABC in New York in households and all demographics and drew more viewers at 1 p.m. in Los Angeles on KABC than previous occupants Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Right This Minute, the latter now airing in the market on Anaheim independent KDOC.

In Chicago, Hall airs at 4 p.m. on CW 26 (WCIU). Local ratings for Hall or Clarkson were not available.

Clarkson’s first guests Monday were Steve Carell (introducing the show) and Dwayne Johnson, who subbed in for scheduled guest Kevin Hart at the last minute as he was recently involved in an auto accident.

Monday’s show saw Clarkson singing (of course) to open the show with Dolly Parton’s 1980 hit 9 to 5, paying homage to the everyday worker, including first responders. Later Clarkson paid a visit to the America’s Got Talent set and gave out Bundt cakes to everyone (including accidentally dropping a cake onto a unlucky fellow driving in a car. Was it Simon Cowell? Hmmmm.)

On Hall’s show, she spent a few minutes talking to the audience, and had a surprise guest – American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. Hall also interviewed a man who was wrongly imprisoned, who spent years in prison. At the end of the show, Hall was taking selfies with fans (Hall’s show airs live three days a week at 11 a.m. ET.)

In the gimmick department (thank you, Oprah), Clarkson gave away Bundt cakes to the audience while Hall gave out tickets for Fantasia’s upcoming concert to hers. She also had a “cyber-hall”, inviting three people to watch the show as it happens. So if you can’t be at the show, you can watch in real-time, providing it doesn’t buffer (or if you’re using Skype.)

Overall, both shows seem to be off to solid starts creatively, For Clarkson’s however, there is the inevitability of her show being compared to Harry Connick Jr.’s effort from three years ago also from NBCU, featuring pretty much of the same format.

Meanwhile, another new show debuted Monday – albeit locally featuring WGCI-FM personality Leon Rogers in Later With Leon on Fox-owned WFLD-TV at 10 p.m. Featuring station reporter Tia Ewing (whose cleavage did not go unnoticed), the program featured discussions on issues of the day, including Sen. Dick Durbin going after vaping and Kanye West’s church service on Northerly Island (and also broadcast on WGCI and WKSC-FM.) Also appearing on the show was Empire’s Ta’Rhonda Jones.

The biggest surprise here? There is a studio audience.

The best thing about Leon is the program is a decent alternative to the network O&Os and WGN’s 10 p.m. newscasts (if you had enough of all-day crime coverage.) and WFLD should be applauded for trying something different. But this show may not last very long, given it’s on only four days a week (Fridays has Flannery Fired Up in this time slot with Thursday’s show delayed until 11 p.m. due to football beginning Sept. 26) and may not attract enough of a mainstream audience. In other words, enjoy the show while you can.

Also debuting Monday was NBCU’s Judge Jerry, featuring former talk-show host Jerry Springer as a judge hearing small-claims court cases, airing in the too-early 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. times slots on CW 26. A former lawyer, Springer seems to know what’s he doing.

Ratings for Leon and Judge Jerry were not available.

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