State of syndication: a much quieter year

Sherri Shepherd’s talk show is the top new talker this year.

After nine shows were wipe off the schedule, a quieter 2023 is ahead

If there’s anything after the great syndication purge of 2022, 2023 is shaping up to be much different.

An article on NextTV’s website Tuesday detailed how there are very few first-run syndicated programs in development as this year’s new entries are likely to stick around. Even though ratings for practically all new shows are below a one, they have actually done better than the overall numbers indicate, including demo increases and respectable total viewer count.

In addition, veteran programs continue to do well, i.e. Dr. Phil, Live With Kelly and Ryan, Family Feud, and others. Jeopardy! is still a ratings beast despite the loss of Alex Trebek and an absence of a permanent host and Wheel Of Fortune continues to roll on despite talk of Pat Sajak and Vanna White stepping down from the show one day. 

All of this is in vast contrast to before July 2022, when as many as nine programs were either canceled or ended their runs as a perfect storm of a decline in television viewing, the lingering pandemic, the faltering economy, and the streaming era came together to sink their fortunes. Freshman shows (Nick Cannon) and vets (Daily Mail TV, The Doctors, Right This Minute) weren’t spared. 

There isn’t much work in overhauling schedules in 2023 as syndicators are expected to bring back most of this year’s freshman class, including Debmar-Mercury’s Sherri; Warner Bros’. The Jennifer Hudson Show; NBCUniversal’s Karamo; and Trifecta’s iCRIME with Elizabeth Vargas. All four have at least one positive story to tell, such as Sherri’s being the most-watched new talk show of the season to Jennifer holding her own in tough time periods (especially in her hometown of Chicago, where she is up against top-rated 11 a.m. newscasts on ABC 7 and WGN-TV), to iCRIME gaining female viewers in the 25-54 demo since its premiere. Crime was a hot topic in this year’s mid-term elections – especially in large markets and iCRIME’s ratings gains could be partly attributed to that. 

“NBC News Daily” is the season’s top new show in daytime, outdrawing all freshmen syndicated first-run shows. (NBC News)

Then there’s CBS Media Ventures’ The Drew Barrymore Show who going into its third season, changed format from the traditional one-hour talk show to two separate half-hours, resulting in a few downgrades in some cities. But surprisingly, ratings have soared – scoring increases on all the CBS-owned stations who carry her show, Chicago included where Drew runs at 9:30 a.m. on CBS 2 (WBBM-TV). Recently, Pluto TV signed Barrymore as the spokesperson in their advertising (both Drew and Pluto TV share Paramount Global as a corporate parent.) All of this points to a fourth season for Drew, a scenario that looked impossible just three months ago.  

Also likely coming back is CBS/Fox’s Pictionary, as getting a second season would be a crowning achievement given the last two versions (in 1989 and 1997) each lasted less than a year. The program airs in a game show block on numerous Fox-owned stations, including My50 (WPWR) here.  

But the highest-rated new fall show in daytime isn’t a syndicated strip. It’s actually NBC News Daily, a last-minute replacement to fill the void left by Days Of Our Lives‘ departure for Peacock September 12. Daily has averaged 1.1 million viewers a day, and topped ABC’s competing GMA3: What You Need To Know in the key 25-54 news demo ten times since its premiere and scored its highest total demo viewer count last week (388,000) as both shows go up against numerous syndicated programs and local news in most markets.  Daily is actually part of a larger four-hour show on NBC News Now, the network’s all-news streaming channel as local NBC affiliates can insert news segments in Daily, like NBC 5 (WMAQ) here in Chicago does. Overall, the move worked out for NBC and Days fans. 

So far, just two new shows were announced: a new court show from Allen Media Group with former Real Housewives of New York star Eboni K. Williams (who also co-anchors an evening news show for Allen’s TheGrio channel); and talk show Michaela! from PPI Releasing, the former Program Partners, which wasn’t mentioned in the NexTV article (the exclamation point at the end is a nice retro touch.)

Keep in mind it’s early and any new project could be announced at any time, as opposed to the days when it would be announced in the fall or in early January just in time for NATPE, though this hasn’t been the case for at least the last decade (the future of NATPE is in question as the organization filed for bankruptcy in October.) With stations already stacked with local news and existing programming and willing to stick with the newbies, getting onto local schedules in September 2023 isn’t going to easy. 


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