Tamron Hall heads to WCIU in primetime

Lack of room on WLS-TV’s schedule leads Disney/ABC to sublicense program to WCIU

In an interesting twist, Weigel Broadcasting-owned WCIU announced Thursday the acquisition of Tamron Hall’s new talk show and is airing in primetime at 8 p.m., beginning in September, after WLS-TV’s weeknight 7 p.m. newscast on the station.

The news was first reported by Robert Feder Thursday morning.

Distributed by Disney-ABC Home Entertainment and Television Distribution and pre-sold to the ABC-owned stations (including WLS-TV), the move was necessary given there was no room on WLS’ daytime schedule as the station wanted to avoid burying the series in late night or cancelling the popular local talk show Windy City Live at 1 p.m. to accommodate Hall.

Instead, Disney-ABC resold the show to independent WCIU to air in a more viable time slot. Hall was sold as a daytime/early fringe entry.

Other ABC-owned stations, such as WABC in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, and WPVI in Philadelphia, will air the show this fall as planned. Disney-ABC and the ABC-owned stations share the same owner in The Walt Disney Company.

In an unusual arrangement, both WCIU and WLS share the local rights to two Disney-ABC shows: Right This Minute and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Ironically, both are on the chopping block for next fall as Hall’s program is likely to displace the duo on several ABC O&Os, although no time period decision has been made yet.

Hall posted the news on Twitter Thursday:

“Tamron is the real deal. We are looking forward to reintroducing her to loyal and new fans in Chicago.  Having her show on prime time will allow so many more viewers to see how special Tamron is on so many levels,” Weigel Vice Chairman Neal Sabin said in a statement.

WLS GM John Idler said “We are thrilled that ABC 7 Eyewitness News on WCIU, The U will be leading into Tamron Hall.  It’s great to have her back home and adjacent to Chicago’s #1 news brand.”

The addition of Tamron Hall’s show would certainly be a ratings improvement over recent fare in the time slot at WCIU which in the last year consisted of game shows Millionaire and Funny You Should Ask and tired off-network sitcoms The Game and Rules of Engagement. Last month, Disney-ABC announced additional clearances for Hall, now in 80 percent of the country for next fall.

Local viewers remember hall from her days as an anchor at Fox-owned WFLD where she spent a decade before joining NBC News and later co-anchoring the third hour of NBC’s Today with Al Roker in the 9 a.m. slot until 2017, when they were unceremoniously dumped for Megyn Kelly.

Hall was one of several talk show projects announced last fall aiming for a September 2019 premiere, along with singer Kelly Clarkson and author Mel Robbins, with NBC’s owned stations acquiring the former (including WMAQ here) and Tribune buying the latter from Sony. While Clarkson has also cleared 80 percent of the country, Sony has yet to announce any station sales outside of the Tribune group for Robbins.

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