ABC is close to finalizing a deal with Katie Couric for a syndie talkshow to bow in fall 2012.
Deal, expected to be unveiled today, also calls for Couric to become part of the ABC News team, though the extent of her on-air role is unclear.
Under the pact, eight ABC O&O stations will carry Couric’s yakker in afternoon timeslots. Disney-ABC Domestic TV will distribute the show to stations in other markets.
The Alphabet is expected to take the unusual step of giving back one of its network daytime slots to its 200-plus affiliate stations to make room for the show on its O&Os. That will likely spur demand for the strip among ABC affils who will suddenly have an hour to fill on their skeds next year.
ABC has already made major changes in daytime with the decision to replace two of its long-running soaps, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” with new unscripted series by early next year.
Couric’s move to ABC comes after a rocky few months for the anchor who exited “CBS Evening News” earlier this month. As it became clear she would not continue with CBS after her five-year contract expired, Couric expected to field offers from numerous suitors. But one by one, Warner Bros., CBS and NBC dropped out of the running, for various reasons, leaving ABC as her only viable option.
Nonetheless, the Alphabet pact gives Couric access to a network news division and potential for a huge syndie payday that she had initially sought. It’s unclear how soon she’ll be on the air for ABC News.
The talkshow venture also reunites Couric with Jeff Zucker, who made her a household name in the early 1990s when he was her exec producer on “Today.”
Zucker, who was eased out of his post as NBCUniversal CEO earlier this year, will exec produce Couric’s new show, which will originate from New York.