Disney-ABC and Katie Couric made it official today, announcing that Couric’s syndicated daytime talk show will not go beyond the original two-year. “While production will continue on Katie through June 2014, we’ve mutually agreed that there will not be a third season of the show,” the two parties said in a joint statement. “We’re very proud of everyone’s contributions to making Katie the #1 new syndicated talk show of 2012-2013, and we look forward to the rest of the season.” Couric is expected to give the news to the show’s staff after today’s taping, the last before the scheduled holiday break until January.
The show’s cancellation was widely expected. Launching with a lot of promise — headlined by Couric and her former Today executive producer Jeff Zucker — Katie had a rocky freshman season. After a strong opening, it slipped in the ratings. Its numbers eventually leveled off and Katie remained No. 1 in households among all freshmen for the entire season, but was running neck and neck with fellow rookie Steve Harvey, which edged Katie in the key women 25-54 demographic for the second part of the season. There has been more of the same this fall. Katie never broke through to join the upper echelon of talkers like Dr. Phil and Ellen but never tanked either. However, while ratings have been decent overall, the show didn’t do enough for its core ABC station group, posting time period declines and hurting the stations’ newscast that follow it. And Katie‘s biggest problem was its big price tag, said to be $30 million-$40 million a year.
Katie also has been struggling with its identity, with Couric, who also serves as exec producer, reportedly pushing for newsmaking interviews and more serious journalistic approach normally reserved for in-depth news programs like 60 Minutes as opposed to daytime TV’s conventional emphasis on lighter fare and celebrities. (Katie drew its largest audience with the Manti Te’o interview, which averaged almost 3.8 million viewers in January.) The search for direction was acerbated by the departure of Zucker, who had been a strong authoritative figure early on. There have been a slew of behind-the-scenes changes during Katie’s first year on the air: Zucker and co-exec producer Michael Bass left for CNN, with Michael Morrison and Ethan Nelson joining in January as executive producer and co-exec producer, respectively. Both were gone by the end of the season, along with co-executive producer Kathy Samuels and director Joseph Terry, with Rachel Miskowiec taking the reins for Season 2. (more…)