Jennifer Hudson, Drew Barrymore talk shows get “firm gos” for next season

Renewals mean Ken Jeong’s daytime project sits on the bench for now 

In a move coming as no surprise, Fox and Hearst stations have renewed Warner Bros.’ The Jennifer Hudson Show for a third season while CBS Media Ventures’ The Drew Barrymore Show was picked up for a fifth season by the CBS-owned stations. These renewals are for those who are currently carrying the show. 

For Hudson, the renewal was expected with ratings growing in its second season including in her hometown of Chicago, where her show airs weekdays at 11 a.m. over Fox-owned WFLD (Fox 32.) According to Nielsen, ratings grew thirteen percent in adults 18-plus and averages 4.4 million viewers weekly this season, with the show now ranking second in female 18-34 demos among all talk shows. Jennifer’s social media accounts also saw huge increases with impressive numbers on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook and earned six Daytime Emmy award nominations, including one for Outstanding Talk Show Host.

The EGOT winner announced the renewal on her show Friday morning: 

Hudson’s show attracted more A-list talent in recent months including Mariah Carey; the cast of The Color Purple remake with Oprah Winfrey, Octavia Spencer, and Demi Lovato; and upcoming guests include Snoop Dogg, Kaley Cuoco, and fellow Chicagoan Common. 

“Jennifer is a rare talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Her enthusiasm and endearing demeanor radiates from the stage and onto television screens everywhere. It’s no wonder her audience continues to skyrocket,” said Warner Bros. Television Group CEO Channing Dungey in a statement. Indeed, Hudson has been a bright light in a sea of turmoil in the David Zaslav-run conglomerate in the past year. 

Earlier this week, CBS Media Ventures’ renewed Drew for a fifth season on the CBS-owned stations including WBBM-TV (CBS 2), who recently moved the show back into its afternoon slot at 2 p.m. this season. This comes after the start of the show’s fourth season was a turbulent one as the show planned to start its season on-time without its writers, but backlash forced the show to postpone its season premiere until October 16 after the strike ended. Despite drawing three million viewers less than Jennifer, Barrymore’s show grew nine percent in households and four percent in total viewers from October 2023 to December 2023. 

“The Drew Barrymore Show is firing on all cylinders this season,” CBS News And Stations President Wendy McMahon said. “Drew continues to catapult the show into the cultural zeitgeist with her empathetic and thoughtful interviews transporting viewers into her living room, where they feel like they are listening to a conversation between two friends that they are a part of. It’s an experience unlike any other in television. Drew is truly creating magic in daytime, and we’re thrilled to continue to bring that to our stations.”

The renewals of both Jennifer and Drew and the expected sixth-season pickup of Disney’s Tamron Hall (NBCU’s Kelly Clarkson is renewed through 2025) shuts out any newcomers. As a result, Debmar-Mercury announced Friday it is not going forward with a talk show project from Ken Jeong. 

“We know Ken is an A-plus talent deserving of an A-plus lineup, and market conditions did not afford us an opportunity at this time,“ Debmar-Mercury said in a statement. “We will monitor the market for future Ken opportunities.”

Debmar made the announcement last October, hoping to target Fox stations in large markets like Chicago to air the show. But since Jennifer’s pickup was a forgone conclusion, Jeong had no realistic shot of replacing her as Debmar was hoping to pair him with their Sherri talk show on many of those top-market Fox stations. Nexstar wasn’t an option either, as their top-market stations such as WGN and KTLA Los Angeles have exited the first-run talk show business, airing more local news and lifestyle programming in their daytime lineups instead. 

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