Honeymoon Over for TLC’s ‘Dating’

Feb 16, 2004  •  Post A Comment

TLC is breaking up with “A Dating Story.”
“Dating Story,” a staple of the network’s daytime lineup of original reality-based shows, stopped production last month and will lose its afternoon time slot in September. The series may continue to appear in the less-watched morning time slots.
“Obviously it’s a ratings issue,” said Chris Sloan, VP, program production, at TLC. The 4-year-old show was not “doing as well as it has in the past.”
The move is part of the network’s effort to freshen up its daytime programming and a concession to the glut of relationship-based reality shows. “Every single time you turn on the TV, it’s another dating disaster,” he said. “It became commoditized.”
In the fourth quarter of 2003 TLC’s daytime programming was up 3 percent among women 25 to 54 with a 0.32 rating. Its two new additions, “Second Chance” and “Perfect Proposal,” improved their time slots by 18 percent and 7 percent, respectively. “Dating Story” registered a 0.19 rating in the demo.
TLC has successfully spun new shows off its “Wedding Story” and hopes to have similar success by putting on dating shows with a bit more of a twist, said Mr. Sloan.
TLC has a number of shows in development in the relationship and makeover genres. Mr. Sloan pointed out that “Second Chance” and “Perfect Proposal” could be looked at as “the next generation of dating shows.”
At the same time, TLC is looking to update its current shows. “Late this year I think you’ll see a new face on even our continuing series,” Mr. Sloan said. “Everything from the production values to the storytelling to the type of casting we do.”
The competition in the reality field is intense. “A lot of people are doing makeovers; a lot of people are doing relationship shows. When you do 60 episodes, over time they can fall into a pattern, so we’re trying to look at all sorts of things so the audience may not see every single beat coming.”
At the same time, the TLC shows won’t lose their personality and humiliate the people who appear on them. “It’s not going to be in any way sensationalist or tabloid,” Mr. Sloan said.