Kelly Clarkson to take over Ellen’s timeslot on NBC owned stations in major markets
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DeGeneres announced her talk show would end after its upcoming 19th season after a toxic workplace scandal and ratings dip.
The move is not surprising — DeGeneres has reportedly been hinting at wanting to leave her talk show for several years and NBCU was reportedly prepping for that eventuality even before the scandal hit by launching Clarkson’s show.
“Ellen” is produced and distributed by Warner Bros., but NBC holds the syndication rights to the show in 12 major markets where it owns its local station.
The show is currently used as the “lead in” to local newscasts — which typically start at 4 p.m. local time.
Many stations, including non-NBC owned ones, put some of their highest rated syndicated programs right before their first afternoon or early evening newscast as a way to hopefully grab those viewers and entice them to stick around.
It’s also not uncommon for the station with the highest rated syndicated show right before this newscast block to lead in the local news ratings.
“Clarkson” currently airs an hour before “Ellen” in the NBC O&O markets.
In markets where NBC does not own its local affiliate, Clarkson often runs before Ellen as well — but there are exceptions and this announcement won’t necessarily affect Clarkson’s show in every market.
While Clarkson’s show has been popular, it’s also come with mixed ratings success, including some recent dips.
However, NBCUniversal produces and distributes the show, so it doesn’t have to share revenue with a third party production company or syndication arm like with “Ellen,” so even with lower ratings, the show could still be financially lucrative.
What remains to be seen is if Clarkson’s show can deliver a strong lead in to local NBC newscasts — though with “Ellen” ratings down, it’s likely many of these programs are taking a hit too.
Clarkson and NBC also have a year to boost ratings before it becomes the lead in to local news in many parts of the country — and the producers are already hinting at changes coming for Season 3, which would debut in the fall of 2021 and be the last chance to build a loyal audience before the big move.
Another big wildcard is what will shift into Clarkson’s spot once it moves back an hour.
The hour in question is technically part of the schedule that most affiliates are responsible for filling themselves.
It’s possible NBCU could develop a new talk show (one name bandied around to replace “Ellen” was Tiffany Haddish) or other type of program for the period and clear it in the markets it owns while also offering it to its affiliates needing to fill the timeslot.
Stations could also opt to create local lifestyle programs or even a mid-afternoon local newscast, which are typically inexpensive to produce and can be profitable even with lower ratings than a pricey syndicated show airing at the same time.