Talkshow aims to titillate in summer test run on Fox stations

Warner Bros. talker “Bethenny” got off to a good start last week, but whether it will hold up over its six-week summer test remains to be seen.

The show premiered on Monday, June 11, to a 1.5 rating/5 share among households, according to Nielsen, on Fox stations in six markets, WNYW New York, KTTV Los Angeles, WTXF Philadelphia, KDFW Dallas, KSAZ Phoenix and KMSP Minneapolis.

Monday’s premiere rating improved upon the six stations’ average lead-in by 15%, and their year-ago time-period average by 88%. Both of those measurements figure significantly in judging whether a new show is succeeding. On June 12, however, ratings dipped 27% to a 1.1/4, even though the show featured Ellen DeGeneres (a “Bethenny” executive producer) as a guest. “Bethenny” was still up 8% over its lead-in and improved its timeslots 63% over last summer.

“?’Bethenny’ is probably the best first shows of a test (run) that I’ve seen in a long, long time,” says Bill Carroll, director of programming for Katz Television Group.

While the show is produced by the team behind “Ellen,” its content is far different, with host Bethenny Frankel — who came to fame on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” — taking prurience to the limit and, some might say, beyond. Topics over the first few days included members of the audience revealing how they adopt kinky scenes from bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey” into their own sex lives, Frankel and guest Holly Robinson Peete visiting a sex shop, and a female sex therapist discussing the issue of self-gratification.

“They know what they have with her, and they are playing to her strengths,” Carroll says.

Warner Bros. Television Distribution and Fox are expected to use the full six weeks to determine whether “Bethenny” can deliver over the long haul. If Fox decides to pick up the talkshow, it will be the first talker to be a firm go for 2013.

Other contenders for slots next year include Sony’s “Queen Latifah,” which has already hired “Nate Berkus” exec producer Corin Nelson to serve in the same capacity, and possibly a food-related talkshow with Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis that CBS Television Distribution is developing.

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