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Steve Harvey Daytime Talk Show to End After Battle Between NBCUniversal and IMG

Steve Harvey’s syndicated daytime talk show “Steve” will end its run in June.

The writing was on the wall for the show last September year when NBC cut a deal with Kelly Clarkson for a talk-variety hour to launch in the fall. “The Kelly Clarkson Show” will move into the prime daytime slots occupied on NBC O&Os by Harvey’s show for the past seven seasons.

“Steve” taped its final episode on Thursday. Originals will air through June and the show will remain on the air in reruns through September.

The demise of “Steve” raises the question of whether Harvey’s show was a casualty of animosity between NBCUniversal and Endeavor’s IMG Original Content over IMG’s takeover of the show two seasons ago.

Harvey’s entry into the daytime talk arena began in 2012 with “The Steve Harvey Show,” co-produced by Endemol Shine North America and NBCUniversal and distributed by NBCUniversal Television Domestic Television Distribution. That show was taped in Chicago and featured Harvey more in the Oprah Winfrey/Phil Donahue host mode, albeit with his signature humor. The show was one of the few new entries in daytime to deliver solid, if not spectacular, ratings. This season, it has averaged about 1.8 million viewers a week, putting it at No. 5 among syndicated talk shows behind “Dr. Phil,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Live with Kelly and Ryan” and “Maury.”

After his initial five-year deal with Endemol ended, Harvey in 2016 opted to cut a deal with IMG Original Content to produce a new version of the show, renamed “Steve,” that relocated to Los Angeles starting with season six in fall 2017. The new show put more emphasis on celebrity guests and comedic segments. IMG offered Harvey a much larger ownership stake in the show, a higher salary and more creative control over the production. The deal commanded attention in the industry because IMG is a corporate sibling of WME, which represents Harvey, raising the specter of conflict of interest as IMG became Harvey’s production partner.

NBCUniversal executives were furious at losing their stake in Harvey’s show after the transition to IMG, even though it remained the distributor of “Steve.” The new version of the show also remained in its time slots on the NBC O&Os in crucial major markets, but it was no surprise when NBC moved to develop a high-profile new show to replace “Steve.”

A rep for Endeavor, the corporate parent of IMG, declined to comment. A rep for Harvey could not immediately be reached for comment. A source close to the situation asserted that Harvey has no regrets about making the shift to IMG. “Steve took a shot,” the source said. “He still made more money than he would have under the old deal.” An industry observer unconnected to the show noted that the tussle reflected the strain between talent with clout trying to exert more control, with help from nontraditional partners such as agency-affiliated production entities and private equity backers, and the renewed focused by the largest media conglomerates on owning the vast majority of the content carried on their networks.

IMG spent the past few months looking for new stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major markets to keep Harvey on the air in syndication. “Steve” was also shopped to cable and digital buyers. The show has ramped up the production of digital content in recent months, and there’s chatter that Harvey may establish a digital platform, possibly with Facebook, to showcase the kind of comedic and topical segments that have proven popular on the daytime show.

Despite the demise of “Steve,” Harvey will continue to be a regular presence on TV. He’s the host of syndicated game show “Family Feud,” from Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury, and he is in demand as an emcee for numerous specials including the annual Miss Universe pageant and Fox’s “New Year’s Eve with Steve Harvey: Live From Times Square.”

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