Katie Couric deal is done with ABC


Look for Katie Couric’s new syndicated TV show to launch next year (September 2012) with distribution by Disney/ABC Domestic Television. The NBC and CBS on-air veteran will also have a role with ABC News.

The opportunity to be able to continue doing news reporting was apparently an important factor in getting Couric, the former anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” to take the Disney/ABC offer. As expected, she will be reunited with former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker as her other executive producer for the new talker. Couric and Zucker worked together when he produced the “Today” show on NBC, where she was co-anchor.

The eight ABC Owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh/Durham and Fresno, which represent nearly 23% of the nation’s TV households, have already cleared the new show in the 3:00 pm time slot. As part of the announcement, ABC is set to return the last hour of its Daytime network block to affiliates no earlier than September 2012, but noted that it continues to support “General Hospital,” and the plans to launch “The Chew” in September of this year and “The Revolution” in January 2012.

The ABC move is sort of a homecoming for Couric, although she never appeared on camera there.

“I’m very happy to be returning to the network where I began my career as a desk assistant in 1979. It is tremendously exciting to have the creative freedom to develop my own show with Anne Sweeney, the Disney/ABC TV Group and Jeff, and to contribute to such a vibrant, innovative news division. I can’t wait to be part of this incredibly talented, visionary team,” said Couric in the announcement of her new ABC deal. Financial details were kept under wraps, but Disney/ABC called it a multi-year, multi-platform agreement.

“It was a blast working with Katie at ‘Today’ and I’m excited to do it again,” said Zucker. “And besides, it should be more fun spending time with Katie at 3 or 4 in the afternoon than at 3 or 4 in the morning.”

While the new daytime talker won’t start until next year, Couric will join the ABC News team immediately. Beginning this summer she will “anchor specials, contribute interviews, participate in special events coverage and bring her many talents to bear on some of the most important and interesting stories of the day,” the network said.

For Anne Sweeney, president, Disney/ABC Television Group and co-chair, Disney Media Networks, the deal means that she is bringing a couple of former major competitors into her camp. “Katie Couric is one of television’s iconic figures and we are thrilled to have forged such an exciting partnership with her. We look forward to having Katie join the best News team in the business, and to working with her to create a dynamic and successful talk show franchise,” Sweeney said in the network announcement.

RBR-TVBR observation: The format should work well for her. No doubt a lot of stations wish it could have been possible to launch in Fall of this year, rather than next year.