Local content pumps ‘America Now’

Show continues to blossom within syndie market

Newsmag “America Now” continues to blossom within the syndicated market, resonating with its “news you can use” tagline as it enters its third season.

Hosted by Leeza Gibbons and Bill Rancic, daily news program offers a consumer-friendly spin to local and national happenings, featuring segments that range from health tips to cooking know-how to heads up on Internet scams and household dangers.

Unlike traditional news programming, “we’re offering news with solutions,” “America Now” exec producer Dana Milikin told Variety. “These are things you can actually apply to your daily life with great experts in useful areas.”

From ITV Studios America and Raycom Media, series finds a balance between news programming and local lifestyle fare with content that is both timely and evergreen and has pulled viewers during timeslots including early ayem, mid-afternoon and latenight broadcasts, depending on the market. During its fall 2011 season, “America Now” ranked as one of the top syndie programs in its markets, topping network daytime yakkers like “Ellen” in Birmingham, Ala., “Anderson” in Richmond, Va., and “Live!” in Memphis. Skein has also shown ratings strength during its fall bow this year.

While a part of the program’s material is filmed in Los Angeles with Gibbons and Rancic, local news correspondents from “America Now’s” syndie markets submit content that is then repackaged for a national audience.

“By putting this local content into the mix, we’re able to give a broader look at what’s happening in America,” Milikin said.

Program’s steady growth and proliferation across syndie markets contrasts with the recent competitive surge of national daytime yakkers at the fall season’s starting gates. “America Now” began with weekly broadcasts for season one, then expanded into a daily newsstrip for season two. Season three now airs weekdays in 45 markets, or 20% of the country.

“We’re pleased with ‘America Now,'” Raycom topper Paul McTear told Variety. “We’re responsible for about 75% of the content of the show, and ITV produces the remaining content…it’s given us an opportunity in working with ITV where if we do get feedback about our content for a syndicated show, we can make changes. We as a station have some say in how the show is produced.”

McTear also said the relationship with ITV and “America Now” has offered Raycom more “freedom.” “We’re able to do something that breaks the hold that the networks, studios and syndicators have on our various daytime parts,” he said.

As “America Now” presses into its third season, Milikin said the team is working on landing the news program in more metropolitan markets, including Los Angeles and Gotham.

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