Executives at Warner Brothers have long believed that Ellen DeGeneres is the heir apparent to Oprah Winfrey in daytime TV. Still, they were startled by the news that a media research firm delivered to them last spring.
The researchers from SmithGeiger, who had been hired to assess talk shows, convened to tell a group of six executives that “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” was, for the first time, on par with “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (and, in some cases, exceeding “Oprah”) in the minds of viewers. They had ample reason to conclude that this was Ms. DeGeneres’s moment.
One of the executives closed the meeting room door, and said the data must not leave the room — after all, Ms. Winfrey had not yet decided that her talk show would end in September 2011.
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But once Ms. Winfrey did decide, last November, Warner Brothers put the research to work, and before long it had brokered a deal, announcing on Wednesday night that NBC’s 10 owned-and-operated stations would keep broadcasting Ms. DeGeneres’s show through 2014.
Read More: By BRIAN STELTER, NYT