Today is the day when Katie Couric can get competing offers from other places besides CBS, opeing a 30 day window when that network can decide whether to match an offer or let her fly out the door. Been a lot of press in recent days about an impending ABC offer, and if one is going to come down, expect it by close of business today.
Then the clock ticks...will CBS match? Or will ABC have a new daytime star joining up by fall of 2012?
And what about NBC? Why not NBC?
I know a lot of 'Zone readers have opinions about Katie and have expressed them loudly and clearly here and elsewhere before. But the thing to remember is that despite her not-exactly-successful run at "Evening News," she's still a considerably big female TV star and there simply aren't a lot of those around. No, of course she's not on the scale of an Oprah or Ellen, but she's in a slightly different space - the "news/informational/entertainment" space, if you will - and only Barbara Walters essentially fills that gap right now at "The View."
ABC seems to have a leg-up on Couric at the moment, and here's why:
1.) Couric's show would actually be a network show as opposed to a syndicated one, which should have considerable appeal for both parties. Here's why - a syndicated Couric show would have a hugely difficult time getting decent clearances because all the best time periods are sewn up through 2014; "Dr. Phil," "Oz," "Ellen" and all the other big guns have signed deals throught that year. If Couric were to launch a syndicated show in 2012, she'd be stuck in lousy time periods, or even late night ones. She'd never survive.
2.) ABC will almost certainly need a new afternoon show in 2012. Both "Chew" and "The Revolution" - which are replacing "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" - launch this fall, but almost certainly one of those two will tank. When one of 'em does, there will be a bunch of ABC affiliates screaming to grab one of those hours - but they won't be screaming if ABC says that Katie's new network talk show will be filling the hour.
3.) Couric's show doesn't mean the demise of "General Hospital," and I'd be pretty surprised if "GH" got the hook. Among women 18-49, "GH" is the second highest rated soap on TV, after "Young and Restless." But, "GH" could be moved to (say) 2 p.m. from 3 p.m. to make room for Katie. Her show would then lead into local news.
4.) Finally, Couric'd have a role in ABC News - "20/20," even "Nightline." She wants that and I'd be hugely surprised if ABC News didn't want that too. Would she sub for Diane Sawyer - I doubt that very much - but there's simply no reason why she couldn't do the occassioanl piece for "GMA" or "World News" either. (Could she even go to "GMA" if the daytime thing doesn't work out? Thinking waaay to far ahead, but I am certain she would make certain that would never happen.)