I didn’t watch the premiere of Katie Couric’s new syndicated talk show Monday on Channel 7 because I’ve generally found columnists can overreact as badly to talk premieres as we do to NFL openers.
Nor did most of WNY watch it.
Couric’s 4 p.m. premiere averaged a 2.0 rating, getting about half the audience as Channel 2’s “Ellen” (4.4) and Channel 4’s “Dr. Oz” (3.8) in the time slot.
And you might have expected all the hype for Couric’s show to at least attract some curiosity viewing as she did locally when Channel 4’s rating skyrocketed on the first night she became the anchor of “The CBS Evening News.”
As I’ve written before, Couric won’t have it easy locally because she is on Channel 7, which is deep in third place in local news and won’t give her much of a lead-in. The show’s national rating of 2.8 was 40 percent higher in the top 56 markets than it was in Buffalo.
The good news for Couric locally is she more than doubled the lead-in on Channel 7 from the new version of “The Ricki Lake Show.” Lake’s show had a .8 rating (that’s point 8), which was the same rating that Jeff Probst’s new talk show had on the weaker CW 23 at 2 p.m. To make matters worse for Couric, Lake’s show had a .2 (that’s a point 2) in the final 15 minutes.
The bad news for Couric is her show lost about half of its audience in the final 15 minutes when the rating slipped to a 1.2.
Of course, Couric is running a marathon and not a sprint and things can get better if the national reviews are more positive than they were on opening day. The USA Today’s Robert Bianco politely panned the opener but hoped for improvement.
Let’s look at things optimistically as well. A year ago, Anderson Cooper’s new talk show bombed locally on premiere week. On Monday, it had a 3.7 rating on Channel 4 and won its time slot.
But clearly, the first part of the front-page headline in the Buffalo News about Couric’s show couldn’t be more accurate: “She’s Not Oprah.”
In her heyday, Winfrey’s talk show often got double-digit ratings around here. Those talk show days are long over.