The 2015-16 season begins today in syndication – but in keeping with theme in recent years, there are only a handful of new first-run syndicated programs coming to market. This is mainly due to the continued success of existing syndicated fare such as Ellen, Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer, and Jeopardy!
Also, many time periods are being gobbled up by expansion of local news or talk shows. Locally, Tribune-owned WGN-TV is returning to the 10 p.m. news game, usually reserved for first-run or off-network programming in the past. The only addition to WGN’s schedule this fall is Crime Watch Daily, premiering today at 3 p.m. The others are:
– NBCUniversal Television Distribution’s reality TV clip show Crazy Talk gets a 5 and 5:30 p.m. slot on WPWR-TV, replacing one hour of a two-hour block of Family Feud. A weekend version Sunday nights at 11:30 p.m. and Midnight.
– Disney-ABC Television Distribution launches Tyra Banks’ new The FAB Life on all eight ABC-owned stations, including a 1 p.m. slot on WLS-TV. FAB replaced Rachael Ray here, which is being moved to 1:05 a.m. FAB is also replacing Ray on Houston ABC O&O KTRK, also moving it to late-night hours (more on some veteran syndicated shows in a little bit.)
– Bellum Entertainment launched its first-ever syndicated strip on Sept. 7 called Corrupt Crimes, which delves into real-life true crime stories. Primarily cleared on Sinclair Broadcasting stations, Crimes airs at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Weigel’s The U Too.
– Syndication’s only new off-network sitcom debuts on Sept. 21 with 2 Broke Girls airing in primetime from 9 to 10 p.m. over WCIU-TV.
Two other syndicated strips also debut this fall: PPI’s Just for Laughs: Gags, which airs from 6-7 a.m. on The U Too and Debmar-Mercury’s Tosh.0, reruns of the Comedy Central series airing at midnight on WPWR starting Sept. 21, replacing Right This Minute, which at the time of this writing, does not have another clearance lined up in the Chicago market.
Also launching – but in a limited rollout is Hollywood Live Today, airing many on Fox and Media General stations. In Chicago, Hollywood airs weekdays at noon on WPWR.
Many veteran syndicated shows are getting make overs – and/or getting the shaft on local stations with downgrades.
The show appearing to be hit the hardest is Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Despite a new host (Chris Harrison, from Bachelor fame), the program has been dropped and/or downgraded by several ABC-owned stations, a victim of midday news expansion in New York (WABC), Philadelphia (WPVI), and Raleigh/Durham (WTVD). While the show moves to WLNY New York (at 4 p.m.), ABC-owned stations in Los Angeles (KABC), Philadelphia, Houston, and Raleigh have all downgraded the show to late-night time slots. In Chicago, Millionaire moves to 11 a.m. on The U Too, starting today. Since Meredith Vieira left Millionaire, the series has been
through three hosts.
Speaking of Ms. Vieira, her daytime show is also getting a second-season makeover to boost sagging ratings. Included is a new set, and new segments.
In addition to Millionaire, some older syndicated shows are running on fumes – notably Rachael, Dr. Oz, The Insider, and The Doctors. With the exception of Oz and Millionaire, these shows are slated to air past midnight in the Chicago area. The clock may be ticking on these past-their-prime shows due to their years-long rating declines.
Another change is Law & Order: Criminal Intent reruns shifting to The U Too in primetime from 7-9 p.m. each weeknight.
If you like procedurals, you are in luck: four off-network shows are being added in weekend syndication. This past weekend, summer ABC staple Rookie Blue is airing on WCIU Sunday afternoons at 1 and 2 p.m. Disney-ABC syndicated Blue joins three other crime dramas: CBS Television Distribution’s Elementary and Warner Bros.’ Persons of Interest, both with weekend afternoon slots over WGN-TV (both series have also been picked up for stripping on WGN America.) Also joining the weekend parade is Warner Bros.’ Rizoli & Isles, the off-TNT series airing from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturdays on WPWR.
Bob’s Burgers also gets a weekend syndication deal – the Twentieth-distributed animated sitcom airs at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on WCIU Saturday night as part of its “U Toons” block.
As noted here a few weeks ago, Monopoly Millionaires Club was cut to a half-hour but retains its 6 p.m. Sunday night slot on WGN, now being paired up with a weekend edition of Celebrity Name Game.
Also, U Too has talent competition The Big Big Show, airing Saturday nights at 9 p.m. starting Sept. 19.
Not too many shows, but there are a handful of shows not returning due to cancellation or expiring contracts. Queen Latifah, Let’s Ask America, and weekly action hour SAF3 are all long gone, each canceled earlier last season. Futurama is being replaced in syndication by Bob’s Burgers next weekend, but continues its off-network run on Comedy Central (the series ended in 2013.) Also canceled is The Conspiracy Show and Unsealed: Alien Files, both reality shows running mostly in late night-weekend slots.