Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show to stay on NBC-owned stations

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Warner Bros. has signed a new deal with NBC to keep Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show on 10 of the network’s television stations, including WNBC-TV Channel 4 in New York and KNBC-TV Channel 4 in Los Angeles.

Holding on to DeGeneres’ show is big for NBC’s television stations. Walt Disney Co.'s ABC stations have a big hole to fill when Oprah Winfrey quits her syndicated daytime talk show in September 2011, and ABC was expected to make a hard push for DeGeneres to fill that void. The new contract with NBC will run through the 2013-14 television season.

ABC was not the only one interested in DeGeneres. OWN, Winfrey’s new cable network in partnership with Discovery Communications also made a play for her, people familiar with the situation said. The Fox TV stations may also have been curious about DeGeneres, particularly since she is now a judge on ‘American Idol.’

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution sells ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ on a cash-plus-barter basis. In other words, TV stations pay cash and also give up a portion of commercial time in return for the show. Warner Bros. declined to comment on terms of the deal. One industry insider with knowledge of the daytime talk business said NBC paid between $250,000 and $300,000 per-week for the show in its current deal. NBC’s price tag was a little less than what other stations in big cities paid.


For NBC, the renewal of DeGeneres is the second big deal it’s made in the last few weeks. It recently reached an agreement with Sony for its new daytime talk show featuring Nate Berkus that will start this fall. Berkus is an interior designer who has been a regular on Winfrey’s show. NBC’s television stations have holes to fill because Martha Stewart quit her daytime show. ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ does not generally compete head to head with Winfrey. When Winfrey leaves next year, don’t be surprised if NBC’s television stations move DeGeneres to whatever time slots were occupied by the reigning queen of talk. Her show averages over 3 million viewers, putting it second behind Winfrey’s show, which averages just under 7 million viewers.

ABC now has one less option to consider when it decides how to replace Winfrey on its big-city television stations, including WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York and KABC-TV Channel 7 in Los Angeles. There has been some talk that ABC might look to move its morning chat show ‘The View’ to the afternoons to fill Winfrey’s slots.

-- Joe Flint