Harvey scores in syndication

Gameshow, talker both hit season highs

Syndication has been good to Steve Harvey this year. The comic actor/radio host/talkshow host has seen the two shows he headlines climb the charts, with some considering his style of urban hip to be a measuring stick for success.

In the first full week of 2013, the Harvey-hosted “Family Feud” hit a series-best live plus-same day household rating of 5.4, ranking it fourth overall in firstrun syndication and placing second (with a 2.3) to CBS Television Distribution’s “Judge Judy” among women 18-49. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, “Feud” ranked third (2.6), trailing only “Judy” (3.6) and CTD’s “Wheel of Fortune” (2.7).

“Feud,” up a whopping 69% compared with last year, is seeing this kind of surge because stations last year upgraded it to access and primetime slots, where it’s now cleared in some 80% of the country.

Meanwhile, NBCUniversal talker “The Steve Harvey Show,” produced by Endemol USA, also is seeing growth. For the week of Jan. 7-13, “Steve Harvey” hit a series-high 1.6 in households, and a 1.0 among women 25-54, the latter number tying Disney-ABC’s rookie leader, “Katie.”

The return of “Steve Harvey” next year is already guaranteed, and NBCU’s sales force is working to renew it, with time-period upgrades, through the 2015-16 season.

That success is why Disney-ABC is expected to seek a host with similar urban and comic flair next season when it replaces Meredith Vieira on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” (Vieira is in talks with NBC about a daytime talkshow of her own.)

Gameshows are certainly thriving in syndication. Only CTD’s category leader, “Wheel of Fortune,” and “Millionaire” are down year to year, and not by much: “Wheel” has dipped just 3% compared with last year at this time, and is tied for the syndication lead at a 7.6 household rating; “Millionaire” is down 8% for the year, to a 2.4.

Still, “Feud’s” ratings gains offer proof to syndicators and stations that adding a new host can do wonders for an aging show.

Just look at Disney-ABC’s “Live! With Kelly and Michael,” which this season replaced Regis Philbin with Michael Strahan as co-host, and is easily holding its own for the year at a 2.6 among households. Over the holidays,” Live” was the top talker in households for three weeks in a row, beating CTD’s usual champ, “Dr. Phil.”

Says one syndicator: “You have to have the skills to succeed in syndication, but you also have to be in a show that appeals to people in a time period when they are available to watch.”

Steve Harvey has touched all those bases twice.

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