“Dr. Phil,” one of daytime TV’s stalwart talk shows, will end its run of original episodes in the spring after 21 seasons on the air.
Dr. Phil McGraw, 72, made the decision to stop producing new episodes at the close of the current 2022-23 season. Distributor CBS Media Ventures hopes to keep the syndicated “Dr. Phil” on the air with a package of repeats through at least the 2023-24 season.
CBS sources emphasized that McGraw made the call to end production of the hourlong series that airs Monday to Friday. McGraw has been doing more as a producer of scripted primetime programming in recent years. He also hosts two podcasts. Despite steep declines across the board in linear TV, “Dr. Phil” is still averaging about 2 million viewers per episode. That makes it the highest-rated daytime talk show behind Disney’s “Live With Kelly and Ryan.”
For McGraw, the sunset of “Dr. Phil” comes after a quarter-century of the daytime grind. He got his start as a regular guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in the late 1990s. That led to the launch of his own series in the fall of 2002. Initially, the series was produced by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions and distributed by CBS-owned King World Productions.
“I have been blessed with over 25 wonderful years in daytime television,” McGraw said in a statement. “With this show, we have helped thousands of guests and millions of viewers through everything from addiction and marriage to mental wellness and raising children. This has been an incredible chapter of my life and career, but while I’m moving on from daytime, there is so much more I wish to do.”
McGraw hinted at a new TV endeavor to come, noting that he intends to announce a “strategic primetime partnership” that will be designed to allow him to “increase his impact on television and viewers.” McGraw is targeting an early 2024 launch although details remain sparse.
“I am compelled to enage with a broader audience because I have grave concerns for the American family, and I am determined to help restore a clarity of purpose as well as our core values,” McGraw said.
The loss of original “Dr. Phil” episodes and the license fees and advertising revenue the show generates is sure to be a blow to Paramount Global’s bottom line. Word of McGraw’s decision to end new production surfaced in part because TV station operators were surprised by the high price tag CBS is seeking for the “Dr. Phil” rerun package to run next season.
“Phil is a valued partner and member of the CBS/King World family, and while his show may be ending after 21 years, I’m happy to say our relationship is not,” said Steve LoCascio, president of CBS Media Ventures. “Phil changed the daytime landscape as the force behind one of the most popular talk shows ever on daytime TV. We plan to be in the ‘Dr. Phil’ business with the library for years to come and welcome opportunities to work together in the future.”
CBS aims to dress up the repeat episodes with new wraparound material filmed by McGraw, including updates on the fate of specific guests and new developments in counseling and therapy. McGraw endeared himself to millions of viewers with his folksy brand of advice that he delivered to fueding couples, harried parents, surly teenagers, wayward adults and others grappling with substance abuse, mental illness and relationship problems.
McGraw’s show has also faced severe criticism over the years for what some see as exploitation of guests and their problems for the sake of TV ratings. In announcing the show’s sunset, CBS noted that “Dr. Phil” has provided more than $35 million in resources for guests after the cameras stop rolling. In 2016, the show took a drubbing for its handling of an interview with actor Shelley Duvall, who has had a long struggle with mental illness.
Before he gained fame on “Oprah Winfrey,” McGraw was a prominent jury consultant who ran his own firm, Courtroom Sciences Inc. That aspect of his resume inspired the CBS scripted drama “Bull,” which starred Michael Weatherly and ran for six seasons starting in 2016.
At present, McGraw is executive producer of “So Help Me Todd,” the mother-son legal drama that debuted on CBS last fall. He also hosts the podcasts “Phil in the Blanks” and “Mystery & Murder: Analysis by Dr. Phil,” produced by Stage 29 Productions, the banner he runs with his son Jay McGraw.
“Dr. Phil” has earned 31 Daytime Emmy nominations over its long run. For Season 21, McGraw serves as executive producer along with Carla Pennington.