As Ellen exits, here’s the state of the daytime TV talk show landscape

Kelly Clarkson is Ellen DeGeneres’ heir apparent, but only if Sherri Shepherd, Karamo Brown, and Tamron Hall don’t get there first.

It’s a new day on daytime television. On Thursday, Ellen DeGeneres left the syndicated talk show airwaves after 19 years — and with that, Kelly Clarkson is in the starting block, ready to take first place against longtime leaders “Dr. Phil” and “Live With Kelly & Ryan”.

Clarkson will be taking over the “Ellen” slot this fall (and in Chicago, Dallas, Hartford, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and San Diego markets on June 6, IndieWire has learned). Her show, like “Ellen” and “Maury,” has an average rating of 0.4 this season among women 25 to 54, the key demonstration of syndicated talk show ad sales by the day. “Wendy Williams,” which has been guest-hosted largely this season by Sherri Shepherd (who is getting her own show this fall), also rounds to a .4 rating.

That means they all share third place in syndicated daytime talk space, but three of those four aired their series finale. Clarkson’s show is the only one continuing this fall, much to the delight of Tracie Wilson, executive vice president of NBCUniversals Syndication Studios (and “E! News”). “Kelly is an incredible talent,” Wilson told IndieWire. “We look forward to continuing the success and momentum. We are very excited about the direction in which we are moving.”

Clarkson isn’t the only competitor, of course; She won’t even be the only American Idol graduate. Jennifer Hudson, who came seventh in the same singing competition in 2004, is starting her own talk show — and we were treated to a live preview on stage during Warner Bros. Discovery at Madison Square Garden last week.

“Treated” might be the wrong word. J. Hud fought, including a teleprompter scuffle, while introducing HGTV and Magnolia megastars Chip and Joanna Gaines. The aspiring presenter did her best to cover up awkward moments by hitting impromptu high notes, but even Jennifer Hudson can only sing so much. She had a few charming moments, too, but aside from her rendition of “Respect,” we’re not sure Hudson earned the respect of the advertising community.

It probably didn’t help that Hudson opened up on her hosting foray with the “I’m the future” declaration. She wasn’t paying attention, TCB.

“Live! With Kelly and Ryan,” airs weekdays in syndication on ABC.

(ABC/Paula Lobo)

Also in the future is Karamo Brown, a regular replacement for Maury Povich but perhaps best known for “Queer Eye.” Wilson said she hopes to repeat Clarkson’s success with Brown’s show, which she will also oversee. “His unique background and life experience make him the perfect host in this space,” said Wilson. “The syndication market is always changing and growing, and as the saying goes, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.'”

Newcomers are Tamron Hall and Drew Barrymore. Hall is doing well in the ratings and Barrymore is not, despite being extended to 2023 solely on the basis of her star power. Below are the seasonal standings for syndicated daytime TV talk shows among women aged 25-54.

1. “Live with Kelly and Ryan”: 0.7
2. “Dr. Philip”: 0.6
3rd (tie) “Ellen”: 0.4
3rd (tie) “Kelly Clarkson”: 0.4
3rd (tie) “Maury”: 0.4
3rd (tie) “Wendy Williams*”: 0.4 (*with guest presenters all season)
7th (tie) “Tamron Hall”: 0.3
7th (tie) “Rachael Ray”: 0.3
7th (tie) “Steve Wilkos”: 0.3
10. (Draw) “Drew Barrymore”: 0.2
10. (Draw) “Nick Cannon”: 0.2
10. (Draw) “The Real”: 0.2
13. (Tie) “The Good Judgment”: 0.1
13. (Draw) “Jerry Springer”: 0.1
13. (Draw) “The Doctors”: 0.1

If these numbers don’t sound impressive to you, well, they aren’t.

“It’s not that easy out there,” said Mort Marcus, the co-president of Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury. “Ratings are harder to come by.”

THE KELLY CLARKSON SHOW - Episode 1180 - Picture: Kelly Clarkson - (Photo: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal)

Kelly Clarkson is a rising – and bankable – star in syndicated daytime talk shows.

Weiss Eubanks/NBC Universal

Of course everything is relative. Fortunately, CPMs (cost per thousand viewers as paid by advertisers) are still rising because advertisers need to find rating points in a fragmented world, which syndication “saves,” Marcus said — just in time for his company to move from “Wendy.” ‘ with ‘Sherri’. So how do you survive in this low-rated, fragmented environment?

“You do your best in the broadcast world, you get a Diginet (like ‘Wendy Williams’ with a simulcast on Bounce TV) to complement it,” he said. “Take advantage of the show on YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms, and you’re trying to put all of that together to try and build something that’s a profitable business.”

Profitability in space comes from several sources of revenue: a cash fee paid by broadcasters to carry the program; the TV advertising revenue shared with those broadcasters; viral clips that generate social media advertising revenue; product integration (Wayfair has what Clarkson needs) and the ongoing struggle to keep production and labor costs relatively low.

“Our hope with Sherri is that it strikes a chord and somehow becomes a must-see show,” Marcus said. “It’s all hard to do.”

Don’t take Marcus’ word for it – ask his competition. “The good dish”, the “Dr. Oz” replacement, which starred the daughter of the cardiothoracic surgeon-turned-talk-show host and US Senate nominee, has been canceled — as has “Nick Cannon” (also a Debmar-Mercury Show), “The Real” and “Die Ärzte.”

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Lindsay Lowe

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