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Daytime Talkers' First-Run Syndication is Here to Stay

Ellen DeGeneres, Kelly Clarkson

In an era in which everyone is tuning into news channels and pre-emptions raging, daytime talk shows have seen their viewing figures suffer. But production companies are looking forward to first-run syndication deals for 2021. Here's what Broadcasting & Cable observed from the past year and what's to come in 2021.

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Ratings for shows new and old have suffered. The Drew Barrymore Show experienced a softer-than-hoped-for launch, but the first-season chatfest is not far behind second-season veterans The Kelly Clarkson Show and Tamron Hall. Still, Drew was shopped in two-year deals and is expected to get another season.

Kelly, in particular, is a highlight for NBC. B&C notes that, without knowing when Ellen might end, NBC expects the popular talk show to take over the 3 PM slot Ellen currently occupies. Things are changing behind the scenes at Ellen production company WarnerMedia, as well, with plenty of layoffs, though the company still plans to support projects present and future. 

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Mort Marcus, president of Debmar-Mercury, is keen to see Warner stay in the game, saying:

I want Warner Bros. to be in the business and I want them to do first-run syndication. More competition] makes everything more relevant and it keeps the business vibrant. I don’t believe in a world where we’re the only supplier.

Next fall will bring production on the postponed Nick Cannon talk show, while CBS Television Distribution is working on a new chatfest from Niecy Nash and Jay Leno is bringing You Bet Your Life to TV. A syndication exec told B&C:

Stations need product to drive people to local news and other dayparts, so you can’t give up on syndication. Now, more than ever, people should be leaning into it. I think there’s a lot of opportunity going forward but stations need to participate in that.”