First, some background. WPLG-ABC 10 in Miami acquired the rights to the Dr. Phil show from CBS O&O WFOR-4 in September. The once dominant Local 10, struggling in the South Florida news ratings, made a bold move with the talk show. The station opted to kill its 5-6 p.m. news hour and replace it with Dr. Phil.
The programming switch vaulted Local 10 from No. 3 in the 5-6 p.m. hour to No. 1, beating the news shows on the other local stations. And having Dr. Phil as its lead-in lifted Local 10 News to a No. 1 finish at 6 p.m. in the November sweeps, making it the first English-language newscast to claim the No. 1 crown in South Florida in more than five years.
WKMG GM Henry Maldonado said the Dr. Phil success in Miami is great, but he’s happy having the show at 7 p.m. here in O-Town. "Dr Phil is doing better than ever here at 7," he wrote in an e-mail. "We were the first major market station to put Dr Phil in the evening, and now others are following our lead."
As for any thought to duplicating WPLG’s South Florida strategy here in Central Florida, Maldonado said, "Our news is doing just fine, we are No. 2 in those time periods, and looking to keep moving up."
"But," he added, " it’s good to know that there’s a strategy out there in case this town runs out of news."
And that will happen about the same time Dr. Phil runs out of patients needing help.