Katie Couric’s triumphant return to daytime TV Monday snagged the biggest ratings for a syndicated talk show launch in a decade.
The “Katie” unveiling tied “Dr. Phil’s” premiere back in September of 2002 and -- because we know you’re going to ask – there have been 25 daytime talk show debuts since the unveiling of “Dr. Phil.”
“Katie” won her timeslot in the country’s two largest TV markets – New York and Los Angeles.
But here in Washington, Katie got crushed by Mehmet Oz, airing on our Fox station, WTTG.
“Dr. Oz” averaged 102,000 viewers in his season debut – more than double Katie’s 50,000.
One industry pundit speculated Dr. Oz did so well because Dr. Phil’s show did not aired in the timeslot on Monday, owing to CBS’s coverage of the U.S. Open. That left Oz the only doctor in sight.
Katie also finished behind the 4 p.m. newscast of WRC, our local NBC station, but by just 2,000 viewers, according to early stats.
Among women between the ages of 25 and 54 — the currency of daytime TV — Katie scored an average of 7,000 viewers in Washington — still trailing Dr. Oz. (32,000 viewers). Katie also came in behind NBC4’s newcast in the age bracket, but by a wider gap of 9,000 viewers.
Nationally, Katie immediately established herself as alpha dog in the pack of new daytime talk show stars who’ve been strutting their wares. Katie outscored Steve Harvey by 87 percent, Jeff Probst by 150 percent, and Ricki Lake by 250 percent.
On this very first episode of her new show, Katie interviewed Jessica Simpson about how hard it has been for a girl raised on fishsticks and Mexican food to take off all those pounds after having her first baby, even with the help of a personal trainer and a Weight Watchers coach deeply invested in her success because Jessica’s been signed as a company spokeswoman. Her second guest, Sheryl Crow talked about the benign brain tumor recently discovered in her “cellphone area” and Katie felt the bump.