Cloudy ‘View’ debut

ABC's Walters talker bows with soft ratings

NEW YORK — ABC’s new daytime talker “The View,” created by Barbara Walters, got off to a disappointing start last week despite heavy primetime promotion.

The chatfest earned a 1.5 national rating and a 6 share in households, and among women 18 to 49, a meager 0.8/7, tying in that demo the previous week’s repeats of “Caryl & Marilyn: Real Friends,” which it replaced.

The results represent a major blow to ABC, which was counting on Walters’ star power and a relatively uncluttered promo schedule to gain heavier initial sampling. Walters herself touted the new series on “20/20” and lured Tom Selleck to appear on opening day, when the show scored a 2.4/9 in the 38 metered overnight markets.

But nationally in households over the week, “The View” actually performed worse than either of its two predecessors: “Caryl & Marilyn” posted a 1.6/7 in its June 1996 debut week, while “Mike & Maty” garnered the same number in April 1994, aided by higher spring viewing levels.

In women 18 to 49, “The View’s” 0.8/7 also was below “Caryl & Marilyn’s”s 1.0/9 premiere and “Mike & Maty’s” 0.8/8. But “The View’s” relatively puny 1.7 million total viewers still marked a 17% bump from the 1.45 million tuned in to “Caryl & Marilyn’s” swan song the prior week.

“The View” includes Walters, comedian Joy Behar, host Meredith Vieira, Star Jones and Debbie Matenopulos chatting with each other, a celebrity guest and an “expert” in various segments, airing live with a studio audience.

Despite the new show’s multigenerational panel, Walters’ presence appears to have skewed the audience older than the typical 18 to 49 core reached by ABC’s daytime dramas, attracting more of the typical primetime newsmag crowd already being courted by CBS’ “The Price Is Right,” which also airs at 11 a.m. in most markets.

“We always felt it was going to take awhile” to build, said Pat Fili-Krushel, president of ABC Daytime. “We’re wondering if maybe we’re not at fault promotion-wise; we didn’t do such a great job getting across some of the more fun, outrageous elements” of the show.

Still, even if the weak results persist, ABC will likely stand behind the show if only to please marquee talent Walters, who co-exec produces it with partner Bill Geddie through her Barwall Prods.

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