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Syndicators practice patience

No new talkshows were breakout hits, but most will return

This year’s syndicated freshman class hasn’t produced any hits, but four of the season’s six new talkshows will return in the fall.

The high rate of renewal probably speaks more to TV stations’ and syndicators’ willingness to tolerate low ratings among shows that already have an infrastructure, hoping for growth in a fragmented marketplace, than it does to the shows’ success.

Disney-ABC’s “Katie,” sold in two-year deals, finally seems to be finding its footing. On Jan. 24, the talker aired an exclusive interview with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, whose online girlfriend proved to be the creation of a male acquaintance. While the interview didn’t do huge numbers for “Katie” — it averaged 3.5 million viewers — it did give the show its second-largest single-day tally. The talker figures to continue its upward trend with a Feb. 11 exclusive with the widow of disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

In its most recent two weeks of weighted metered-market ratings, “Katie” averaged a primary-run 2.1 rating/6 share in households, up from a season average of 1.9. That’s still down 13% from its lead-in (2.4/7), and 9% off its year-ago time period average (2.3/9), but the show appears to be headed in the right direction

NBCUniversal’s “Steve Harvey” also is coming back next year. “Harvey” entered already-degraded timeslots, and thus its stats are more impressive than “Katie’s”: “Harvey” averaged a 1.7/5, up 31% from its lead-in (1.3/4) and 55% better than last year (1.1/3). Nationally, “Harvey” is averaging a 1.4, but in recent weeks it has climbed to a 1.6. While the show has yet to break a 2.0, it has been upgraded in many markets for next season.

NBCU managed to get a renewal for “Maury” spinoff “Trisha Goddard,” which rates a modest 0.6/2, but is on par with lead-in and year-ago numbers in already-soft time periods. The show’s efficient production costs and concurrent international sales — Goddard is a well-known talkshow host in the U.K. and Australia — explain why it will return.

Twentieth TV, meanwhile, renewed entertainment-talk hybrid “Dish Nation” (0.9 average) for a second season. The show has improved its numbers by a tick, to a 1.0 in recent weeks.

The news wasn’t as good for Twentieth’s revival of “Ricki Lake.” It got the axe after averaging a mere 0.7/2 in the metered markets, down 42% from its lead-ins and off 30% from last year.

CBS Television Distribution hasn’t made a decision yet on “Jeff Probst,” but the show’s numbers aren’t much better than “Ricki’s” — averaging a 0.9/3 in the metered markets.

Next season likely will tell whether syndicators’ patience has been a virtue.

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