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‘Live With Kelly and Michael’ Wraps Strong First Season

Disney scores with another reinvention of its lucrative syndie franchise

Disney’s long-running ayem chatfest “Live!” is looking good with its tandem of Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, last month logging its largest audience in a May sweep in four years.

The show, now titled “Live With Kelly and Michael,” averaged 3.243 million viewers in the April 25-May 22 sweep period — up 8% from last year when it was a solo Kelly Ripa fronting “Live With Kelly.”  It also drew a larger audience than the final two May sweeps of “Live!” hosted by Regis Philbin and Ripa, according to Nielsen.

The strong perf in its first year after Strahan become the permanent successor to Regis Philbin marks a big win for Disney’s syndie arm in successfully reinventing, for the second time, its lucrative daytime franchise. “Live” went into national syndication in 1989 with Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford as hosts; Ripa replaced Gifford in 2001.

In households, the first May sweep for “Live with Kelly and Michael” was up 9% from last year (2.5 vs. 2.3), tying with “Ellen” as the second most popular daytime talker (behind “Dr. Phil”), after ranking fifth a year ago.

The addition of former NFL standout Strahan as co-host has helped “Live” make demo strides, as its May sweeps average in women 25-54 (1.5) was 15% above last year for the show’s highest May number in six years. It was the biggest gainer of any of the top talkshows.

For the 2012-13 season that ended last week for most shows, “Live with Kelly and Michael” finished as the No. 2 syndicated talkshow in households (2.6 rating) and total viewers (3.408 million), edging out “Ellen” in both categories. It was up or flat in all key female demos.

Elsewhere in syndication for the season, it was another good one for veteran juggernauts “Wheel of Fortune” (10.78 million viewers), “Judge Judy” (9.48 million) and “Jeopardy” (9.41 million), with all three either on par or up in various categories vs. last year. Comedy “The Big Bang Theory” (11.12 million) was tops overall in syndication.

“Ellen,” which hasn’t wrapped its season, is the biggest gainer among talkshows, up across the board in demos and moving ahead of “Maury” and “Dr. Oz” in households (2.5) and total viewers (3.35 million). “Maury” remains No. 1 in women 18-49 (1.5).

“Entertainment Tonight” finished on top among entertainment magazines in households (3.7), total viewers (5.23 million) and women 25-54 (1.9). “TMZ,” with a median age of just 46, is the most popular mag among adults 18-34 (0.9).

The biggest gainer among all genres was No. 3 gameshow “Family Feud.” It’s up to a 4.7 in households, 6.90 million total viewers and a 2.4 in women 25-54 (up 50% from a 1.6).

The top new daytime talkshows were “Katie” (1.8 household rating, 2.35 million viewers overall) and “Steve Harvey” (1.4 HH, 1.96 million). They tied as the best rookie talkers in women 25-54 (0.9).

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