Warner Bros. has snagged a two-season renewal with Fox Television Stations for its syndicated talk show “The Real.” The deal comes as the fate of other established syndie series — including talkers hosted by Maury Povich, Steve Wilkos, Harry Connick Jr., “The Doctors” and “CrimeWatch Daily” — remain up in the air.
Warner Bros. pact with the Fox stations virtually ensures that the ladies of “The Real” will keep on yakking through 2019-20 season. The Fox O&Os carry the show in 17 major markets covering 37% of U.S. television households.
The syndication business heads toward the annual National Association of Television Program Executives conference in Miami later this month with uncertain futures for an unusually high number of established shows. Because daytime syndicated series are five-day-a-week affairs, there’s usually a long lead time for producers, distributors and station owners on renewal and cancellation decisions. The NATPE conference, which runs Jan. 16-18, is typically a de facto deadline for distributors on making calls for the upcoming season.
CBS Television Distribution’s “The Doctors” and NBCUniversal TV Distribution’s “Harry” are seen as long shots to return for the 2018-19 season. “Doctors” is now in its tenth season. “Harry” is midway through its second season. The pending acquisition of Tribune Media, one of the industry’s biggest buyers of first-run programming, by Sinclair Broadcast Group is another factor in the delayed decision-making this time around.
“Maury” and “Steve Wilkos” are also veteran players that would open up significant time-period real estate on strong stations were one or both to sunset after the current season. The state of flux has distributors, including Warner Bros., holding off on yea or nay decisions about launching new first-run strips. Warner Bros. has been prepping a comedy-variety series fronted by Jane Lynch. CBS Television Distribution has piloted a conflict-resolution series “Face the Truth” hosted by Vivica A. Fox. But neither have been formally pitched to TV station buyers — yet.
The two freshman strips that bowed this past fall are both expected to return for year two: Twentieth Television’s “Page Six TV” and “DailyMail TV.” Station buyers seem inclined to give both entertainment news-driven strips more time to find their legs, especially with a dearth of new product on the market.
“The Real,” now in season four, had also been on the bubble but ultimately had enough traction with the Fox stations to command a renewal.
“While there are other panel talk series on the air, what truly makes ‘The Real’ stand out from the pack is that it is comprised of four very strong, very authentic and very engaging hosts whose chemistry is unrivaled,” said Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution president Ken Werner. “Fox has been with us since the start, and we are thrilled that together we have built a strong franchise that will continue to entertain, inform and inspire viewers for years and years to come.”
“The Real” is a homegrown success story for Warner Bros. and Fox as the series started with a test run in a handful of Fox markets in the summer of 2013. The roundtable show tackles headlines and topical issues from the perspective of four multicultural women, in addition to offering celebrity interviews and lifestyle segments. Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley are the hosts. Rachel Miskowiec is exec producer.
“On one hand, it’s very gratifying to be renewing a program that started as a test. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter how it got here,” said Frank Cicha, senior VP of programming for Fox Television Stations. “Warner Bros. set out to fill a void and it fit our audience perfectly. Congrats to the cast and crew.”