KPRC changes doctors

Your station has a ratings problem. So if the person in charge of the time period isn’t doing the job of tending to it, what would you do?

Change doctors. That’s what KPRC did.

KPRC-TV, Post-Newsweek’s NBC affiliate in Houston, has replaced CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, with Sony Television’s new hotcomer Dr. Oz at 3 p.m., which was effective last Sept. 14. Oz has gotten off to an impressive start in the ratings, increasing its year-ago time period rating and share and building from the lead-in average in 56 metered markets.

Locally, Dr. Oz runs at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Fox-owned WFLD-TV.

Ratings for Dr. Phil have steadily declined at KPRC, which faces stiff competition in the 3 p.m. time period from The Doctors on CBS affiliate KHOU-TV; Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Inside Edition on ABC-owned KTRK-TV; and Judge Joe Brown on Fox-owned KRIV.  In addition, the station claims content problems, as Dr. Phil has dabbled in more tabloid-like topics in the last few years.

Usually when a station downgrades a program, it moves to a lesser time period – or basically, the wee hours of the morning. KPRC however, has opted it to dump it all together.  While the station is continuing to pay license fees for the program, it isn’t airing the national barter spots, in which they are seven per episode (not counting fee and promotional consideration.)

KPRC is contracted to carry Dr. Phil until 2011.

While CBS Television Distribution defends the quality of the show, it might have to find another home for Dr. Phil in Houston.

Thought: This is a truly bizarre move by KPRC. While it is claiming content problems with Dr. Phil, it didn’t stop them from airing Jerry Springer and the now-defunct Jenny Jones in the past – two talk shows known for salacious content, even more so than Dr. Phil. The station even delayed Late Night with Conan O’Brien until 2:40 a.m. to air Jenny Jones, and later Jerry Springer at 11:35 p.m. in the late 1990’s-early 2000’s (from 1994-96, Late Night did not air at all.) KPRC has lagged behind its competitors in Houston – the station has often placed fourth or fifth in various time periods, especially when it is airing news. It is banking on Dr. Oz to help turn the situation around – it leads into a newscast at 4 p.m.

But one thing is certain – the loss of the tenth-largest market for Dr. Phil – in his home state no less – may not bode well for the future of this show. With ratings down nationally – and locally (CBS-owned WBBM-TV no longer airs the series as a news lead-in) stations are not likely to ante up the same license fees as they did before. Cutting production costs (have you seen how big the stage is for this show?) may be a start.