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‘Pauley’ Stumbles Out of Starting Blocks

Sep 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Jane Pauley’s much-anticipated foray into the daytime talk universe debuted to disappointing numbers last week, especially considering the amount of time and effort NBC Universal spent to promote the show during the Olympics.

But insiders said attempts to haul “The Jane Pauley Show” to the chat show trash bin even before the season begins are premature, since low August viewing numbers, summer travel, a political convention and even an impending hurricane led to an atypical TV viewing week.

According to Nielsen Media Research, “Pauley” scored a 1.9 rating and 6 share for its Aug. 30-Sept. 2 four-day weighted metered market average in its primary runs, down 24 percent from its average lead-in (2.5/8) and down 17 percent from its year-ago time period average (2.3/7). “Pauley” premiered well Monday, Aug. 30, with a 2.4./4, but after steady declines through the week, the weighted metered market average dropped to a 1.7 rating and 5 share Thursday.

Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, said the peculiarities of a late August-early September launch make it difficult to gauge how well the show is doing. He also suggested that the point of the launch was to get a head start on the season.

“Coming out early was really to help build some awareness, build some sampling,” he said. “I think we are pretty happy with the show itself. Is it where it needs to be after three days? Probably not, but it will evolve.”

Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for the Katz Television Group, said NBC Universal, which has cleared the show in 99 percent of the country, made the right choice when it came to launching two weeks before most other new and returning syndicated strips premiere their new seasons. “It does give the show a running start and it would have been foolish not to take advantage of the Olympics and the launch of her book,” Mr. Carroll said.

Ms. Pauley has been promoting her book “Skylighting: A Life Out of the Blue,” which documents her battle with bipolar disorder, on the “Today” show over the summer and on “Dateline” last Wednesday. Despite this, Mr. Carroll said he had expected the show to do “about a 2 rating, which he called a “good place to start.” But the downward trend and the drop from the year-ago time period average are hardly welcome.

“They have to be concerned they haven’t maintained the number,” Mr. Carroll said of NBC Universal.