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CBS makes lower ratings roll the right way for Julie Chen and 'The Talk'

January 27, 2011 |  6:17 am


A TV show needs good ratings to survive, right? Well, not always. 

Take, for example, CBS' new daytime show, "The Talk," which on Tuesday got renewed through next season. Modeled on ABC's warhorse "The View," "The Talk" is co-hosted by Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne,  Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini. Oh, and there's also Julie Chen, who happens to be CBS honcho Leslie Moonves' wife, which of course doesn't make any difference at all to the show's fate.

The network could have explained its renewal decision any number of ways: "It's a rebuilding year," "The Twitterati love it," or "You realize it's Leslie's wife, right?" Instead, CBS said the show is on a "ratings roll," which is an interesting take on how "The Talk" has performed this season. If there has been any kind of a roll to the ratings, it's been downhill. "The Talk" averages 2.2 million total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co., which is off 15% compared with "As the World Turns," the soap that last year occupied its spot. 

Ah, but it's done better among its target audience of women, right? Nope. "The Talk" has slipped 17% in women age 18 to 49, its core demographic. And it's down 19% among a slightly older group, women age 25 to 54.

"The View," by the way, still draws a far bigger audience (3.6 million), but it airs in the morning, while "The Talk" runs in the afternoon. But even in head-to-head competition, ABC's "One Life to Live" outdraws "The Talk," averaging 2.5 million.

So where's that ratings roll CBS talked about? The network says it's happened over the last couple of weeks. Uh, fine -- except that decisions to bring back daytime syndicated shows aren't based on two weeks of ratings; they're based on several months at least. And the recent season highs still don't beat what "As the World Turns" was doing.

When the show premiered in October, Moonves filmed a short video for "The Talk" in which he proclaimed his love for Chen but vowed to cancel the show anyway if it didn't work. It may eventually come to that, but let's say that for now "The Talk" is getting more time to prove itself than the average network show.

What do you think of "The Talk"?

-- Scott Collins

Photo: Leslie Moonves and his wife, Julie Chen. Credit: Andrew Gombert / EPA