Katie Couric makes move to ABC for talk show
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
NEW YORK (AP) — Katie Couric has worked morning TV, the evening news and will now enter the world of daytime talk in the post-Oprah Winfrey era.
ABC announced Monday a multiyear-deal with Couric to produce the talk show, set to bow in September 2012. She will work for ABC News in the interim.
Couric had talked with all the major players in the syndication market. But by the time she signed off last month after five years as the “CBS Evening News” anchor, ABC had outlasted the other suitors. ABC’s bet was that with Winfrey ending a talk show that dominated the marketplace, viewers would seek something new. Couric was the biggest available name out there.
Former NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker, who ran the control room at NBC’s “Today” show when Couric was a co-host there, will be executive producer of the new talk show. The show doesn’t have a name yet, and will be based in New York.
Eight ABC-owned stations covering nearly one-quarter of the nation’s population, including stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, have agreed to air the show in their 3 p.m. ET time slots, ABC said.
Couric is returning to the network where she began her career as a desk assistant in 1979. At ABC News, she will anchor specials, conduct interviews and be part of special events coverage, the network said.
The Couric announcement came on the same day her successor at CBS, Scott Pelley, was to make his debut on the newscast.
Couric will enter a high-risk, high-reward world in daytime television. Only about one of every 10 new syndicated shows that come on the market succeed, said Bill Carroll, an expert in the area for Katz Media. Jane Pauley, one of Couric’s predecessors on the “Today” show, was among those who tried and failed.
Try and succeed, and the riches are great.
“The rewards can be unbelievable — look at the empire Oprah Winfrey created,” Carroll said.
A talk show in today’s market is generally news oriented, celebrity focused such as “Ellen” or informational such as medical, relationship or cooking shows. Winfrey’s show was the only one to successfully blend all three in recent years, and in the ratings she towered over all competitors, he said.
Couric’s show will be watched closely to see which direction it takes, or if it can try to emulate the breadth of Winfrey’s show.
“It can’t always be the show you want to do,” Carroll said. “It has to be the show they want to see.”
The scrambling to claim Winfrey’s audience has already begun, and sometimes the tactics are tough. Dr. Mehmet Oz traveled to Chicago for a blessing — taping a short ad where Winfrey encouraged people to watch her former protege’s show. Oz has moved into Winfrey’s coveted 4 p.m. time slot at some stations, but in major markets such as New York and Philadelphia, ABC is airing local news where Winfrey once appeared.
Anderson Cooper is launching his own talk show this fall, along with British talk show host Jeremy Kyle. Ricki Lake returns to the talk show world next year.