It doesn’t matter how loved you are in primetime

Two months ago when the TV season started I gave my thoughts about the new daytime talkers that joined the fight for viewers. I favoured Jeff Probst above veteran talker Ricki Lake and news legend Katie Couric. Turns out, I’m one of the few who favoured Probst.

Ratings for all of the new shows – minus Couric, who days before I write this had a press release about having the biggest audience numbers over a six-week period – have been less than stellar. So naturally I had to talk to Probst to get his take on entering the competitive daytime TV arena.

We pre-taped a segment for my syndicated radio shows to air later this month. Probst is a surprise guest who calls in during a chat about reality shows. (He actually votes me off of my own show.)

The struggle for his new show, as Probst explained to me, wasn’t/isn’t doing something different to attract viewers, it’s to do something – anything – to attract advertising dollars in a dwindling daytime world where PVRs (or DVRs, as they’re called in the U.S.) control our viewing habits.

“For a long time (daytime TV) was very profitable and now it’s very streamlined,” said Probst. “I’m working hard on it. I definitely want it to succeed because I have a lot invested in it and my ego is in there. Is there a show that we can do that we like that can find an audience that will make it financially viable because daytime is such a small audience right now?”

And as I had previously written in this column, any show – daytime, primetime, late night, whenever – is up against the Internet and different platforms to watch shows so we don’t have to view them when they are actually on the originating channel. The term “watching TV” is sort of on the way out thanks to technology.

“With people DVRing and people leaving the way they have been watching television for so many years, it’s a transition,” said Probst, in the radio chat that airs Nov. 26 on my shows Top of The Charts and The Open Road. “People don’t watch TV at eight o’clock at night when Survivor is on, they watch it when the kids go to bed. You don’t have to watch it at 8, you can watch it Saturday morning.”

At the end of the day, Probst is taking it day by day and hoping he doesn’t get that call that the show is axed.

“We are struggling to hang in there but it’s been a fun experiment so far,” said Probst, who is cautiously optimistic in light of Anderson Cooper’s daytime show cancellation announced last month.

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