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‘Iyanla’ ratings not much to talk about

Talker averaged 1.4 rating up against sister prod'n 'View'

NEW YORK — Walt Disney’s Buena Vista TV has failed to lure many viewers to watch its “Iyanla” talkshow during the series’ premiere week.

Despite a massive marketing campaign and a summer slotting that guaranteed mostly rerun competition, “Iyanla” averaged only a 1.4 rating in the metered-market Nielsen overnights for the five days beginning Aug. 13. That’s 30% below the average lead-in rating to “Iyanla,” and 18% down from the time period average in August 2000.

The industry is watching the ratings of “Iyanla” closely because it’s the first syndicated rookie series to get on the air in the 2001-02 season. The next first-year, five-a-week shows won’t kick off until the week of Aug. 27, when Studios USA’s “John Edward Show” and Columbia TriStar TV’s “Shipmates” make their debut.

A spokeswoman for Buena Vista TV said the company is not yet worried. “The reviews of the show are mostly favorable,” she said. “And the kids still are out of school, so they’re controlling the remotes in many households.” Buena Vista gears “Iyanla” to adult women interested in discussions about relationships and female-oriented trends.

Buena Vista also points to the creative people behind “Iyanla,” Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie, who also produce successful ABC morning show “The View.” Walters and Geddie are in the uncomfortable position of devouring their own young in Los Angeles, where “The View” averaged a 3.8 rating for the week at 10 a.m. on KABC in direct competition with “Iyanla” on KNBC. Latter show finished seventh in the time period with a below-the-radar 0.9 rating.

TV-syndication analysts said the main problem for “Iyanla” is that it can’t point to a breakout rating story in daytime in any of the metered markets during the first week. “Iyanla” is getting its best averages in the nine cities where it runs in latenight, averaging a 1.8 rating, the same as the time period number of a year-ago August.

But that’s cold comfort to Buena Vista because the license fees paid by TV stations for latenight series are too low to sustain production of a series like “Iyanla.”

Analysts said “Iyanla” has inherited many time periods where the show it replaced was performing poorly in the Nielsens. But Buena Vista has also put together an excellent lineup of stations, mostly ones owned by one of the Big Three networks or affiliated with them.

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