Anderson Cooper’s decision to enter the competitive syndie talkshow fray could have a far-reaching impact on the daytime TV landscape.
Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution announced Thursday that it plans to distribute a Cooper-hosted yakker, produced by Telepictures, in fall 2011. Simultaneously, Cooper has extended his deal with CNN to remain a part of that news cabler’s struggling primetime lineup.
Cooper’s decision to create a new talker with Telepictures ended speculation that he might be in line to replace Regis Philbin on “Live With Regis and Kelly.” Cooper has frequently filled in for Philbin, and many believed he was being groomed to sit alongside Kelly Ripa once Philbin decided to retire.That now leaves an open question as to who might be tapped in an eventual host transition.
“They don’t seem to be in a real hurry to anoint someone to replace Regis,” Katz Television analyst Bill Carroll said of “Live.”
The addition of a Cooper talker in the marketplace could also crowd out shows that are performing in the mid-range, such as “The Rachael Ray Show” and “The Doctors.”
WBDTD also thinks it may have a shot with stations (including WABC New York) that decided to fill the Oprah Winfrey void with more local news. Whether those stations would be willing to scrap those plans remains to be seen, however.
Cooper may have also beat another newsie to the punch in daytime. Should “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric not come to terms on a new deal with the Eye (her contract is up next September), she might go the daytime yakker route instead, many have speculated.Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution prexy Ken Werner said he and Telepictures topper Hilary Estey McLoughlin first came up with the idea of approaching Cooper after searching for a host who could appeal to the new crop of adults 25-54 — a demo that’s more Gen X and Gen Y than Baby Boomer.
“There is a great opportunity in the marketplace for this type of show,” Werner said. “Fall ’11 begins a transition period when long-established franchises are leaving the air and making way for a new generation of shows. Anderson Cooper is one of the most distinctive voices of the next generation of television. His popularity and skills uniquely position him to be the next big syndication franchise.”
But Cooper is by no means the heir to Oprah Winfrey’s throne: Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution has been positioning its “Ellen DeGeneres Show” as Oprah’s logical successor.And the Cooper doesn’t have nearly the same kind of following that Winfrey has among the core daytime audience of women 25-54. Cooper’s CNN series “Anderson Cooper 360” lost 57% of its women 25-54 aud in the third quarter of 2010 vs. 2009.
“The real question is going to be, what time periods are available?” said Katz Television analyst Bill Carroll. “How many decisions have already been made for 2011, and will this fit into that overall approach following Oprah’s departure?”
As former Warner Bros. TV Distribution execs Dick Robertson and Scott Carlin found earlier this year, taking a well-known TV name to market doesn’t immediately guarantee a firm go. After stations didn’t go for their revived Rosie O’Donnell yakker, they wound up selling it to Winfrey’s OWN net.
Cooper will also have to walk a bit of a fine line as he maintains his news credentials on CNN while wading into the more entertainment-oriented (and frequently salacious) world of daytime chat.Daytime talkers like “Donahue,” which kept focus on newsmakers, long ago disappeared, with most hour-long strips these days focusing on celebrities, gossip, happy talk or scandal.
Former newsies like Maury Povich and Jerry Springer gave up the ghost and went the prurient route, while Winfrey, after dabbling in tabloid-style fare, eventually moved her show to a more upbeat tone.
“With this new program I hope to relay important information and relate to people and the audience in a completely different way,” Cooper said in the release announcing his show. “It’s an exciting opportunity to show another side of myself and create something worthwhile and special in daytime.”