Deathwatch Intensifies for 'Katie'


If you had 2 years in the "When will Katie Couric's talk show be canceled?" it looks like you'll be a winner. 

Stations carrying 'Katie" are contracted to carry the show through summer 2014, but the decision on whether Katie will score a third season likely will be made this month -- and renewal seems a long shot.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that in fall 2012, Disney/ABC TV rolled out the red carpet for Couric, 56, giving her plum time slots on the best stations, fat license fees and loads of promotion. The initial annual budget was $50 million, according to a show source -- including $20 million for Couric over two years. (That budget has been brought down to $35 million. Similar talk shows cost about $20 million a year.) But station owners now complain the daily strip hasn't lived up to the hype, and several insiders tell THR that internal discord has become nearly unbearable.

Katie insiders say the problem is that Couric has refused to shape shows with softer features to appeal to daytime's key 25-to-54-year-old female demo, insisting instead on the kind of harder-edged interviews she enjoyed on Today and her stint as anchor of CBS Evening News.

"She has a complete and utter disdain for the audience she needs to appeal to," says one former employee. "In her mind, the Today show was [the model] -- professional women getting ready for work. Anyone home after 9 o'clock are people she has no interest in appealing to. But she also loved the $20 million paycheck." A source close to Couric dismisses that characterization and says, "It is because of Katie's great respect for her audience that she introduces fresh perspectives and substantive material into the show."

And then there are Couric's Q scores. The Q Scores company reported in September that only 10 percent of women view Couric favorably, while 21 percent view her in a negative light. By contrast, daytime leader Ellen DeGeneres has a 29 percent positive Q score and 14 percent negative.

When the plug gets pulled on Couric's show, she will have options. As FTVLive reported EXCLUSIVELY, CNN is looking to dump Piers Morgan's show and Jeff Zucker would love to put Couric in Morgan's slot. 

Stay tuned....