Daytime viewers will soon stop seeing red — “The Sally Jessy Raphael Show” is calling it quits after this season.
The longest-running talker on the air, “Sally” and its host’s trademark red eyeglass frames have been a TV staple for 19 years now. But sharp ratings falloffs over the past several seasons ultimately forced Studios USA Domestic Television to pull the plug.
Last fall, the distributor installed new showrunner Larry Ferber and a new set to try to spruce things up. Nevertheless, the show’s 1.7 season-to-date score is 32% down from this time last year.
As for why “Sally” continued to slump despite everything, “I wish I knew the answer to that,” admitted Studios USA domestic syndication chief Steve Rosenberg. “We just couldn’t stem the tide of viewer erosion. But I’d much rather concentrate on the fact that it’s been going on for almost 20 seasons.”
Syndie analyst Bill Carroll of Katz TV said that like a lot of talkers these days, “Sally” “simply fell victim to the factionalization of the daytime TV audience,” moving away to cable and Internet alternatives.
In another development in the syndie-talk world, yak queen Oprah Winfrey has agreed to stick with her show through the 2005-06 season. This two-year extension to her current pact (which goes through the 2003-04 season) apparently will mark the end of a 20-year talk career for Winfrey.
But final goodbyes may not be in order just yet. Winfrey has changed her mind before about when exactly she’d finish her run.