‘Matthews’ Forges Ahead With Clearances in Hand

Mar 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

“The Chris Matthews Show” is heading into its sixth season on a roll.

Not only was the weekly syndicated series up 24 percent in the February sweep, it has cleared more than 95 percent of the country for year six. In addition, the news-driven program’s Web site is gearing up for a major relaunch in April, with the goal of making it the premier destination for viewers who want political news.

“We’ve become really comfortable in our skin,” said series executive producer Nancy Nathan. “Over the years we’ve continually refined the show in different ways as we strived to create a smooth operation, and I think our ratings and loyal audiences reflect that.”

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution has renewed the series for the 2007-08 season on stations from groups including NBC Universal, Gannett, Post-Newsweek, Belo and Scripps. Top-market stations renewing the series include WNBC-TV in New York, KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, WMAQ-TV in Chicago, WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., and WCVB-TV in Boston.

“‘The Chris Matthews Show’ is truly a Sunday-morning franchise now, and stations around the country have recognized that,” said Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution. “Chris and the team are enjoying a tremendous season thus far, and the show is poised for a strong 2007-08 with the presidential elections just around the corner.”

According to Nielsen Media Research, in the recently completed February sweeps “The Chris Matthews Show,” which is produced by NBC News, averaged a 2.1 household rating, up 26 percent from February 2006 numbers, when Olympics coverage disrupted scheduling. The show’s average this season is a 2.0. That score is good enough to put it in first place among unscripted weekly veterans and makes it the only weekly to improve on last season’s averages.

“When you are up against long-running competitors such as [CBS’s] ‘Face the Nation’ and ABC’s ‘This Week’ and beating them after only a few years, it’s a tribute to the hard work we’ve put into the show as well as Chris’ talent,” said Ms. Nathan. “Only a couple years ago we were still trying to tell audiences who we were. Now guests are clamoring to be on the show.”

With the relaunch, its Web site will update its content daily under a new design. Among the new features are interactive polling sections for viewers, information on where and when to find the show in each market, “Matthews Meter” polls of 12 regular panelists on the series, episode information, transcripts and bios for Mr. Matthews and the panelists.

One key new element, Ms. Nathan noted, will be “The Matthews Digest,” which will feature daily news stories and broadcast clips of the panelists on the show.