The Surprising Post-Oprah Plans of ABC’s Flagship Station in New York CIty; Also, WABC Has Asked Regis Not To Leave His Show Until After the November Sweeps

Feb 7, 2011  •  Post A Comment

The plans that WABC–ABC’s flagship station in New York City–have to replace "The Oprah Winfrey Show" when that show ends at the end of this season might surprise a number of observers.

Dave Davis, general manager of WABC, told Matthew Flamm with Crain’s New York that the staion’s plan once Winfrey ends her show is NOT to replace it with another first-run syndicated program, by, instead, "to add another hour of local news, and become the only New York station with a 4 o’clock newscast," reports Crain’s New York.

The article continues, "Mr. Davis likes the economics. He may have to hire reporters, but successful newscasts do well with advertisers, and stations keep the revenue rather than sharing it as they do with network and syndicated programming. That’s one reason local news typically accounts for 50% of total revenue at most stations. WABC had revenue of $219 million in 2009, according to consultancy BIA/Kelsey.

"Even more important, the station won’t have to pay a hefty license fee. Oprah reportedly costs WABC $275,000 a week. While viewing is up this season, and though it easily wins its time period, the show has lost about half its audience over the past six years, and is generally considered a break-even proposition."

Another major programming event efftecting WABC is Regis Philbin leaving his morning talk show. According to the Crain’s article, "Mr. Davis says WABC has not yet addressed the question of who will replace the 79-year-old Mr. Philbin, aside from asking the host to stay on through November. His replacement will be essential: Regis and Kelly keeps Channel 7 competitive with Channel 4, which leads the hour with an extension of the Today Show.This season, Regis’ target audience of women 25- to 54-years-old is up 48% to 80,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. That puts it just 3,000 viewers behind Today."

Crain’s New York, like TVWeek, is owned by Crain Communications.

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