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The Word Is Flat for Syndie’s Stars

Nov 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In first-run syndication this season, flat ratings are worth celebrating for some shows.

Such is the case with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s daily strip “The Tyra Banks Show,” which is even across most key demos year to year through the week ended Oct. 23, according to Nielsen Media Research. Among women 18 to 49, it’s the only returning talk show season to date that’s actually up (by 10 percent).

“Clearly for the new shows it’s getting much more difficult to get sampling and get any traction,” said Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures Productions, which produces “Tyra.” “The marketplace continues to fragment, there’s less viewers in daytime and the Internet is pulling away a lot of female viewers.”

“Banks” is not a top-rated program overall, averaging about a 1.4 in households and a 1.2 in its female 18 to 34 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. In households, the show ranks ninth among syndicated talk shows.

The composition of the show’s audience demographics, however, is potent from an advertising sales point of view. Syndicators sell ads based on demographics, primarily young female audiences. “Tyra” is the youngest-skewing talker since 1993, when Sony’s former youth-appeal talk show “Ricki Lake” was in its heyday with young viewers. Thirty-six percent of “Tyra’s” audience is in the female 18 to 34 demographic.

This year, in its second season, the show moved from affiliate stations to independent stations in 29 markets. With such a switch, a syndicated show would typically be expected to have a hard time sustaining-much less growing-its national ratings averages. Independents tend to have a lower viewership base than traditional affiliate stations.

The show has remained steady overall and is enjoying sharp gains among coveted demos in major markets such as New York (up 44 percent among women 18 to 49) and Los Angeles (up 29 percent among women 18 to 49), according to Warner Bros.’ research department. For the first day of sweeps, Nov. 2, the show was second only to “Oprah” among talkers in attracting women 18 to 34, according to weighted metered market data.

“Given that we moved off affiliate stations, you would think we’d lose steam,” Ms. McLoughlin said. “But we’ve held up and are holding our own.”

“Ricki Lake” followed a somewhat similar trajectory, except the show first debuted on independents. Due to its initial success, the show was moved to affiliates, only to struggle. “Lake” was returned to independents and took off to become a long-running success, according to one syndication industry insider.

Holding your own in an environment where a lot of talk shows are down is a relatively positive sign, Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz TV Group, said of “Tyra Banks.”

“I was at one presentation that said, `Flat is the new up,”‘ he said.

To help target more younger viewers during November sweeps, Telepictures is promoting a text-messaging campaign dubbed “Tyra Get the Message.” The watch-and-win campaign will be promoted in major markets, urging viewers to send a text message with a word of the day presented on the show for a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles.