In what can be described as very good news for the NBC owned-and-operated stations, the group acquired Sony's new daytime talk show from Nate Berkus for airing this fall. The deal includes WMAQ-TV locally.
According to the New York Times, all ten NBC-owned stations are carrying the show.
The move is part of a huge shakeup of the NBC O&Os daytime schedule, and coincides with the announcement Wednesday of Martha Stewart pulling her talk show from syndication and moving it to cable's Hallmark Channel. Ms. Stewart's program was carried on eight of NBC's owned stations.
The pickup of Mr. Berkus' show also fills other holes, with The Bonnie Hunt Show going out of production soon and Deal or No Deal expected to do likewise. There is a possibility the NBC stations could double-run Berkus, similar to what some Fox-owned stations are currently doing with Sony's freshman talk show Dr. Oz, which has been a huge hit this year.
WMAQ and other stations hope Mr. Berkus' show will turn around their moribund daytime schedules, thanks to his connection with Oprah Winfrey, whose Harpo Productions is producing this show. In 2002, CBS Television Distribution's Dr. Phil - another Oprah Winfrey-connected program, aired on a few NBC-owned stations for three years (2002-05) before being outbid in those markets by other stations.
NBC is paying cash to carry the show, with will carry barter advertising. Though no word on what the split will be, it is expected to be the standard 3:30 national ad/10:30 local ad split common in most first-run syndicated talk shows. The deal was done late Friday night - two days after the NATPE convention wrapped up.
In the past, such deals were struck and announced at NATPE - but in the last decade or so, those type of mega-deals have not taken place at the convention. Sony Pictures Television (and its Columbia TriStar Television predecessor) has not exhibited at NATPE for the last few years.
Mr. Berkus is a design expert and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the past, giving advice and tips on home-related matters.
For the record, the last time NBC and Sony made a group deal for a program was in 2000, when the stations aired the disastrous Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus relationship-oriented talk show hosted by Cybill Sheppard - whom Columbia replaced four months into its run. The show was based on the book written by John Gray.