A look at ''Dr. Phil'''s success -- The syndicated daytime show, coming strong out of the gate to become the first bona fide hit since Rosie O'Donnell's yakker, raises the ratings bar
Phil McGraw, The Dr. Phil Show

It turns out the prescription for the ailing syndication business was tough love — and lots of it. Dr. Phil McGraw’s eponymous talk show beat all the competition except for ”The Oprah Winfrey Show” in its premiere week — making it the first hit since Rosie O’Donnell burst on the scene in 1996. (Phil had a good pedigree from the get-go — it’s created by Oprah’s company, Harpo.) So strong was ”Dr. Phil”’s performance — a 4.4 national household rating, second only to ”Oprah”’s 6.0 and light-years ahead of ”The John Walsh Show” at 1.1 — that producers are finally feeling bullish about the future of daytime chat. (Next up for fall 2003: yakkers featuring Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Ferguson, and the duo of ABC News’ Jack Ford and actress Alexandra Wentworth.)

Even Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution Executive VP Jim Paratore — who has seen the ratings for his studio’s ”The Caroline Rhea Show” sink to a 1.1 — is feeling the love for ”Dr. Phil.” ”We’ve allowed the audience to be siphoned away to cable, so when you look at the business today, a two household rating has become the threshold of success,” says Paratore. ”’Dr. Phil’ proves that you can create a quality show that the audience will find.” Oprah must be so proud.

The Dr. Phil Show
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