New ‘Live’ team a winner early

Strahan-Ripa combo produces ratings gains

Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa are off to a good start as teammates.

The former NFL star’s debut as co-host of talker “Live!” — rechristened “Live! With Kelly and Michael” — produced the show’s highest-rated season premiere in five years, according to Nielsen data for the week of Sept. 3. It averaged 3.57 million viewers (and a 2.8 household rating) for its initial week on the air, up from about 3.4 million for last year’s opener.

The Disney-ABC morning chatfest ruled as the most-watched talkshow in syndication for the week, besting the likes of “Dr. Phil” (3.27 million), “Maury” (2.92 million) and “Dr. Oz” (2.68 million).

Several new syndicated talkshows, including Katie Couric series “Katie,” bowed the week of Sept. 10.

Strahan, a football analyst on Sunday studio show “Fox NFL Sunday” and a Super Bowl winner in his 15th and final season with the New York Giants in 2007, emerged as something of a surprise pick by Disney, which showed patience in filling the seat occupied for decades by Regis Philbin.

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