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‘Dr. Phil’ Renewed; King Sees More Syndie Franchises Coming

Nov 23, 2004  •  Post A Comment

King World CEO Roger King announced Monday his company has renewed its first-run strip “Dr. Phil” for three additional seasons, through the 2008-09 season.

Mr. King also said King World is in no rush to introduce more product into the marketplace. There is speculation that King World may syndicate a show for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” regulars Paige Davis and Nate Berkus for either next season or 2006, in conjunction with Ms. Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. “We do plan to develop a show, Oprah has hired people to develop a show,” Mr. King said in an interview with TelevisionWeek, “and it will be like ‘Dr. Phil’-it will be proven to be a franchise. Will it be with Nate Berkus? I’m not positive, but I’m positive she will be developing out of her show.”

Mr. King said spinoffs are the way to go in the current marketplace. “Look at the stuff that’s failing,” he said of the current first-run syndicated crop. “It wasn’t thought out and it wasn’t tested. I learned my lesson. You can save yourself time and misery. It’s very fatiguing to launch a failure.”

But Mr. King said he didn’t think all the declining syndication numbers were a sign that the entire business was changing dramatically.

“I’m not pessimistic for myself,” he said. “I’m very optimistic for myself. But I can tell you one thing-a 2 rating is not a hit.”

Stations that already have signed on for more “Dr. Phil” represent almost 50 percent of the country and include stations groups Viacom, Post-Newsweek, Hearst-Argyle, Young and Freedom. In several markets the series will move stations beginning with the new term in fall 2006. Those markets include Los Angeles, where the series will move from KNBC-TV to KCBS-TV; Chicago, from WMAQ-TV to WBBM-TV; Detroit, from WDIV-TV to WWJ-TV; Miami-Fort Lauderdale, from WFOR-TV to WPLG-TV; Pittsburgh, from WTAE-TV to KDKA-TV; and Baltimore, from WBAL-TV to WJZ-TV.

“Dr. Phil” is currently in its third season. For the week ended Nov. 14, the show scored a 5.6 national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. “Dr. Phil” has been among the top 10 syndicated shows every week since the start of the new season, and the highest-rated talk strip, second only to the show that helped launched it, “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

“I feel dynamite,” Mr. King said about the “Dr. Phil” renewals. “We have an awful lot of 5 and 7 o’clock time periods.”

Mr. King said the show is still evolving and that host Dr. Phil McGraw works to keep show topics fresh. “He does a very unique thing,” Mr. King said of Dr. Phil. “He has meetings with five, 10 of the top psychiatrists in the country. And they talk about what’s going on, and he applies that to his show.”