Published August 30, 2012
With Oprah Winfrey’s talk show firmly in the rearview mirror, the Fall 2012 television season is set to be one of the most ferocious in history, as dozens battle it out to be the new Queen (or King) of Daytime. Jerry Springer, Ellen DeGeneres, Ricki Lake, Jeremy Kyle, Katie Couric, Wendy Williams, Jeremy Kyle, Bethenny Frankel, Jeff Probst, Steve Harvey, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan (just to name a few) are all trying to be America’s best TV buddy.
But everyone won't make the cut.
"The daytime slot is hugely competitive," Alec Shankman, talent agent and founder of the online casting agency, GotCast.com told FOX411's Pop Tarts column. "The viewer has an abundance of options these days as it relates to content, so you have to capture their attention much more quickly."
Millions of dollars are at stake for the players, syndicators and local stations, so the pressure is on from Day One, especially for former "Today" host and "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric.
“The most splashy and expensive launch is 'Katie,' the show starring Katie Couric, who will attempt to return to the girl we loved status from ,Today Show,, and put behind her the sour taste left by her stint as an anchor on CBS," said Alex Ben Block, Senior Editor at The Hollywood Reporter. "ABC/Disney, which hasn't launched a new show of this scale in several years, has gone all out, even moving 'General Hospital' out of its long-term time slot to make sure Katie is on most ABC affiliates at 3pm nationwide. She is talented, but the expectations are so high they may well be unrealistic."
"Since Oprah was the most popular talk show host of the modern era, everybody wanted another Oprah. But TV has undergone a tremendous change, so it is probably impossible to get an audience as big and loyal as the one she enjoyed for years,” Block noted, adding that Ricki Lake and Steve Harvey's new shows look promising.
"Lake returns to the talk show scene with smart positioning as the gal pal that 25 to 54-year-old women are seeking. Ricki also has the most advanced multi platform and social media strategy of all the players, with thousands of followers on Facebook," he said. "And Steve Harvey is a proven performer and first-rate comic. He is full of quips, but he is also a religious and conservative family man with strong values, so he could surprise with his show."
Lonnie Burstein, executive VP of programming and production for Debmar-Mercury, says a host's name recognition is key in today's talk show game.
"Twenty years ago most daytime talk shows were single-topic shows; conflict/resolution was the flavor of the day. With the exception of 'Regis & Kathy,' there were virtually no entertainment-based talkers," he said. "The second big change is the need to bring brand names to the market place, such as Ricki Lake, Jeff Probst and Katie Couric. Twenty years ago we were launching the unknown Ricki Lake, Mark Wahlberg, Arthel Neville and many others. That would not be possible in today's climate."
Yet no matter how influential or popular the eventual daytime winner is, he or she will never be the next Oprah.
"Oprah was an anomaly and even her ratings began to slip in the end," Shankman added. "There are just too many options for content these days, so it is becoming increasingly more difficult to get everyone to watch the same thing at the same time. The current slate of new talk shows would suggest that America is craving celebrity hosts who happen to have the gift of gab, as opposed to well-credentialed hosts who may someday be celebrities, like Oprah."
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report.