Broadcast viewership numbers are on the decline. The diversification of how audiences consume entertainment has eroded the once-powerful Big Four channels (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC). But lost in all the discussions of primetime Nielsen nosedives is what this is doing to the daytime landscape. Soap operas have been reduced to four remaining titles from over a dozen. Broadcast has responded attempting to find the next great talk show host.
This season introduced a new albeit highly recognizable name looking for long-term syndicated success: original “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson. While celebrity alone is not an indicator of talk show gold, Clarkson seems to have hit on a new recipe for success with “The Kelly Clarkson Show” on NBC.
This isn’t the first daytime host to attempt genre crossover success. Rachael Ray, for instance, was a Food Network stand-and-stir star when she was tapped for mainstream stardom. More importantly, Clarkson had already shown she can succeed on television with her aggressively bubbly judge role “The Voice.” She’d also been the first judge on the show to win her first two seasons in a row. (Winning on “The Voice” is as much about getting the audience on the side of the judge as it is picking the correct contestant.)
So far, the numbers for Kelly’s first month in September suggest she was a smart investment. “The Kelly Clarkson Show” debuted with a strong start for a syndicated series, landing a 1.6 household rating, which translated to 2.16 million viewers in her first week. To put that in context, long-running champs like “Kelly & Ryan” (previously “Regis & Kelly,” and before that “Regis & Kathy Lee”) debuted new seasons the same week with a 1.9 rating, or 2.54 million, and Ellen DeGeneres did only marginally higher with 1.9/2.67 million.