This is the month when TV stations will decide whether to renew the daytime talker after next summer, and THR's Alex Ben Block reports that the outlook is not good. Apparently, the show has not lived up to its hype, and it costs a fortune to produce. Also, lots of squabbling on the inside, sources tell the Reporter (they've been turning over executive producers almost from the start). Not that it can't afford it, but Disney has an estimated $100 million invested in Couric, with KABC, as well as the seven other ABC-owned stations, paying higher license fees to help cover costs. By the way, Couric tests badly among women in the likability department. Aside from all that, she's doing swell.
Katie insiders say the problem is that Couric has refused to shape shows with softer features to appeal to daytime's key 25-to-54-year-old female demo, insisting instead on the kind of harder-edged interviews she enjoyed on Today and her stint as anchor of CBS Evening News. "She has a complete and utter disdain for the audience she needs to appeal to," says one former employee. "In her mind, the Today show was [the model] -- professional women getting ready for work. Anyone home after 9 o'clock are people she has no interest in appealing to. But she also loved the $20 million paycheck." A source close to Couric dismisses that characterization and says, "It is because of Katie's great respect for her audience that she introduces fresh perspectives and substantive material into the show." Despite pleas from staff, "she always wanted to lead with experts," adds the ex-employee. "Her producers said: 'Katie, if you want to do this social issue, bring in people who have lived it. Get the kids to tell their mother's story and empathize and relate. Then in segment six we'll have the experts.' What happens? 'Segment one we're having the sociologist from Harvard.' "