It’s been pretty much a done deal that Katie Couric is headed to ABC to start her own syndicated talk show, but an official announcement can’t be made before the matching window expires at her former employer CBS. Well, that window expires this weekend, and CBS pulled its offer in early May. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that an announcement from ABC could be made as early as Monday. While a foregone conclusion, word is that the ABC is not completely done yet but is in final stages. When it’s all set and done, it is expected to include the talk show, which would give Couric the ownership and potential financial windfall she had been seeking, as well as a role for her at ABC News, including possibly pieces on primetime newsmagazine 20/20. As expected, ABC would launch the Katie Couric talk show in fall 2012, airing it in the afternoon. The network is expected to give back an hour to its owned and affiliate stations so they can easily accommodate the new program. The only surviving ABC soap opera, General Hospital, which now airs at 3 PM, may be moved to an earlier time slot to make room for the talk show. The odds are that new unscripted series The Chew and The Revolution, which are set to take over the 1 PM and 2 PM slots in the fall and in January, won’t both succeed, which could lead to another afternoon vacancy for fall 2012. The 4 PM slot on ABC’s O&O stations that traditionally carried The Oprah Winfrey Show has already been spoken for for this fall, with the stations airing a mix of local news programs and acquired syndicated shows, but there could be an opportunity there too if the immediate Oprah replacements don’t get traction this coming season.
The deal with ABC would mark the end of lengthy negotiations for Couric and her team that included a lot of twists and turns. The process started off with multiple suitors and NBC and CBS as the frontrunners, but both networks eventually pulled out, leaving late entrant ABC as the only interested party. The pact would also mark the first new gig for former NBC Universal CEO (and one-time Today executive producer) Jeff Zucker who is executive producing the show.