Ellen signs new deal; enables NBC-owned stations to add news at 4 p.m.
‘Meredith’ axed after two seasons
Ellen DeGeneres will be dancing up a storm in daytime for years to come.
That’s because Warner Bros. and NBC announced on Monday a huge mega-renewal deal for her daytime/early fringe talker Ellen through the year 2020, taking the show through her 17th season.
The renewal deal includes all ten of NBC’s owned stations including WMAQ-TV in Chicago, which airs the show at 3 p.m. and is staying put. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The new pact also moves Ellen and NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey to earlier time periods in some markets to make room for news expansion on NBC-owned stations. Beginning in either late May or early June, NBC stations in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Hartford, Conn. will launch newscasts at 4 p.m., pushing Ellen to 3 p.m. in those markets. ABC-owned stations in New York and Los Angeles already program news at 4 p.m.
The deal restores news to the 4 p.m. time period at KNBC in Los Angeles for the first time since October 2006 when a local news show was rushed in to replace the failing Megan Mulually show, which lasted just seven weeks in the early fringe time period. Ellen has occupied the time period since 2007.
NBC’s stations in Philadelphia, Dallas, San Diego, and Washington D.C. already have 4 p.m. newscasts and airing Steve Harvey at 2 p.m. and Ellen at 3 p.m. In Chicago, WMAQ airs a local newscast at 4:30 p.m. and has done so since 1976 (excluding a short period where Extra – now at 4 p.m. – occupied the time period.) It is not known if WMAQ plans to launch a 4 p.m. newscast, which would necessitate the move of Extra.
Hours before the Ellen renewal, NBCUniversal announced the cancellation of The Meredith Vieiera Show, which had been expected.
Premiering in September 2014, Meredith never really gained traction in the ratings. According to Nielsen, Meredith spent the better part of two years in the ratings basement, averaging around a 0.3 rating in the key women 25-54 demo and a 0.9 in households. Speculation had been swirling for months on the future of the show.
Meredith follows a trend of celeb-driven talk shows failing to draw viewers in recent years. Shows hosted by Jeff Probst, Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper – and revival efforts from Queen Latifah and Arsenio Hall (for late-night) have met a similar fate.
Vieira plans to wrap up the series in May. Afterward, she’ll trek out to Rio to report from the 2016 Summer Olympics for NBC.
While news expansion is the de facto replacement for Meredith in a few NBC O&O markets, there is no word on what would replace it in Chicago, where it airs at 1 p.m. weekdays on WMAQ. A strong possibility is the return of Access Hollywood Live, which is still airing on a few NBC-owned stations.