Dr. Phil’s Merit Street Network launches today

Screenshot taken from WWTO/Chicago about the launch of Dr. Phil’s Merit Street Media. (T Dog Media)

Adds Steve Harvey to roster 

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 25, but updated April 2 with new information. Keep reading for more.]

One-time daytime talk show foes Dr. Phil McGraw and Steve Harvey are teaming up.

According to B&C, the former Chicago-based TV talk show host and radio superstar has taken an equity interest in Dr. Phil’s new Merit Street Media and is teaming up with him to produce a new special set to debut later this year on the Steve Harvey Mentoring Program, hosted by both.

“Partnering with my good friend on such an innovative network allows me to continue my mission of empowering and inspiring individuals through entertainment,” Harvey said in a statement. “The docu-style special highlighting the impactful work of the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation is particularly close to my heart. I believe in the power of mentorship to transform lives and look forward to sharing this journey with viewers. The positive impact we can create together will be unlike anything seen before.”

“Steve and I have been personal friends for over a decade, and it’s always the best experience when we work together, said McGraw. “It’s easy to say that he’s the funniest human I’ve ever met,” he continued. “But his kindness and his passion to help others are really unmatched.”

Reruns of the 2017-19 daytime talker “Steve” will now air on Merit Street.

As part of the deal, some 300-plus episodes of Harvey’s last talk show effort Steve, will appear on the network. Airing from 2017 to 2019, the program was a sequel to Harvey’s Chicago-based The Steve Harvey Show, airing for five seasons between 2012 and 2017. The L.A.-based Steve was canceled by NBCUniversal in 2019 after the syndicator replaced him with Kelly Clarkson on the NBC-owned stations (including WMAQ-TV here) despite ranking fifth among all talk shows at the time. The decision was due to a clash between Steve producer IMG (owned by talent agency WME) and NBCU, who was never happy with the agreement signed in 2016 giving Harvey more control, an increase in production costs with the move to L.A. from Chicago, and forcing NBCU to give up a financial stake in the show. A revival of Steve was planned for Facebook Watch but was derailed due to the pandemic.

McGraw is also a daytime talk show veteran, spending 22 years hosting Dr. Phil until its end last spring as repackaged reruns continue to air in syndication. Harvey meanwhile, continues with Family Feud, his ABC primetime Judge Steve Harvey court comedy show, and his daily morning radio show heard locally over V103.

Harvey is the latest addition to a lineup whose talent list includes former Bachelor host Chris Harrison and former HLN host and Swift Justice judge Nancy Grace, who’ll host a true-crime block in the afternoons. Mornings will consist of a news block anchored by Fanchon Stinger and Dominique Sachse (late of Houston media) and an evening news block anchored by Kris Gutierrez with co-anchors Lyndsay Keith and Loni Coombs. 

Announced last fall and based in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area, Merit Street Studios’ programming was set to launch on February 26 but was pushed back to today (April 2) as Merit partnered with Trinity Broadcasting Network for distribution, whose WWTO in Chicago will carry the network on channel 35.2. A channel finder search on Merit Street’s website also showed the channel being available on WJYS Channel 62.1, DirecTV Channel 306, and Dish Channel 247. A few days ago, the WJYS information was removed from the channel finder website.

The website also stated Merit Street plans to launch a streaming app on connected devices such as Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and apps on Android and Apple iOS phones on the day of launch. Cable, vMVPD (w/YouTubeTV, Hulu +Live TV, etc.), or FAST channel deals (w/Pluto, RokuChannel, Xumo, etc.) deals have yet to be announced.


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