Philbin's finale dominates in ratings; show eyes new co-host

Regis Philbin’s final week on Disney-ABC’s “Live! With Regis and Kelly” — the syndicated series Philbin co-hosted for nearly 30 years — was ratings gold for one of the talkiest of talkshows. And in Philbin’s wake, a parade of high-profile guests has kept the show at some of its highest ratings levels in years.

“Live!” scored a 4.2 same-day national household rating for the week of Nov. 14-18, according to Nielsen. That was enough to shoot the show past CBS Television Distribution’s “Dr. Phil,” which has been leading the talk pack since the season started. On Philbin’s final day (Nov. 18), the show skyrocketed to a 6.7 national household rating.

The Gotham-based show, newly titled “Live! With Kelly” with Kelly Ripa front and center, returned Nov. 21 with New York favorite son Jerry Seinfeld sitting in the co-host chair through Nov. 23. The pairing of Ripa and Seinfeld kept the show’s ratings strong, averaging a 3.6/12 for Seinfeld’s three days. That’s up 24% compared to the show’s November 2010 sweep average (2.9/10).

“Live! With Kelly” was a repeat with Russell Brand on Thanksgiving, and that show was widely preempted. Actor Jerry O’Connell co-hosted the next day.

The second full week of “Live!” post-Philbin saw “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris co-hosting with Ripa, generating a 3.3/11 and a 3.2/11 in the weighted metered markets for its first two days, down a bit from Seinfeld’s run but still up 14% over the show’s 2010 November sweep performance. Harris is often mentioned as a possible replacement for Philbin or as the host of his own talk/variety show.

The producers of “Live!” have a long list of guest co-hosts for this month, including Derek Hough of “Dancing With the Stars,” singers Josh Groban and Michael Buble, actor Taye Diggs and veteran broadcaster Bryant Gumbel — and they don’t seem to be in a hurry to name a permanent co-host alongside Ripa.

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