‘Dr. Phil’ tried to revamp itself in final months as sponsors fled: sources

Dr. Phil’s decision to quit last week comes after months of producers trying to revamp the long-running CBS daytime show and a desperate attempt to lure failed advertisers, The Post reported. learned

After years of Dr. Phil’s dramatic “interventions” with teenagers and feuding families — and in some cases accused of capitalizing on the plight of celebrities like Britney Spears and Shelley Duvall — CBS Insider Individuals were concerned that viewers and advertisers alike were tuning into the doctor. Phil, along with other “quick doctors” who have left TV in recent years, multiple sources told The Post.

In fact, despite that fact “Dr. Phil” averaged more than 2 million viewers in the 3 p.m. time slot – the second-highest-rated daytime show on Nielsen behind ABC’s “Live with Ryan and Kelly.” According to – close sources, the show had become radioactive for many sponsors. to the situation.

“The ad queue was absolutely dead,” said one insider. “The show was relying on CBS to sell ads as opposed to relying on Dr. Phil’s brand.”

“With that time, you start at home base,” said another source. “But he couldn’t hit any more home runs.”

A decade ago, the top corporate brands that “Dr. Phil” included American Express, Allstate and General Mills. But during an episode last week, commercial breaks included vitamin supplements, personal injury law firms, public service announcements about vaccines and smoking cessation spots, as well as several in-house ads for other CBS shows. .

Dr. Phil is sometimes accused of capitalizing on the plight of celebrities like Britney Spears.
Getty Images

“There was clearly a cash issue,” another insider told the Post. “They don’t have the advertisers of the past. That includes domestic consumer brands.”

In response, as the 21st season of “Dr. Phil” began in September, with CBS hiring a new executive producer who wanted to emphasize Phil McGraw’s medical career. According to a note obtained by The Post, the show turned to more serious topics like “medical gaslighting” instead of interpersonal drama.

A fall episode dealt with “Inclusivity or Indoctrination? What’s Happening in Schools Today?” – where McGrath and a panel of experts discuss transgender politics in schools. Other shows this season focused on hard news such as gun violence and anti-Semitic hate crimes.

However, sources claim that despite this, bookers for the show have faced difficulty in lining up big-name panellists.

Shelley Duvall
The show turned to more serious topics like “medical gaslighting” instead of interpersonal drama.

“Dr. Phil has been trying to gain credibility with other doctors he’s trying to book as guests … but he’s struggling to get credible guests,” an insider told The Post. told.

The Post reached out to CBS for comment. A spokesman for McGrath declined to comment.

It’s a dramatic shift from just a few years ago when Dr. Phil’s programming focused on helping troubled youth. Now famous girl “cash me out” And helping women Leave toxic relationships.

CBS insiders feared that viewers and advertisers were too closely associating Dr. Phil with Dr. Oz.

The insider added that some at CBS believe that Phil’s TV personality became close to another daytime TV doctor, Mehmet Oz, who was running for a U.S. Senate seat at the start of the season. He was contesting the election.

Ratings for Oz — who was embroiled in his own controversy over his push for alternative medicine and fad diets — began to decline even before his run for the Pennsylvania seat. While Dr. Phil’s ratings had dwarfed those of Oz, according to one source, producers were increasingly concerned that viewers would “shun television’s doctors”.

“There are some people who don’t know the difference between Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil,” the source added, adding that the producer says he feels strongly that “Dr. Oz is a dip.”

Dr. Phil’s wholesale rebranding efforts come after 25 of the show’s staff were cut last summer to “streamline production to ensure longevity.”

A spokesperson for the show said the layoffs are “normal.” There were certain roles that we discovered we could reduce but still deliver on our dynamic, forward-thinking program.

Last year, BuzzFeed News reported that employees working on the show “faced verbal abuse in the workplace that promotes fear, intimidation and racism” and were “manipulative and unethical.” ” The show did not address these concerns.

A spokesman for McGrath declined to comment.

Dr. Phil
Dr. Phil laid off 25 employees last year.
Via NBCU Photobank/NBC Universal

The show is scheduled to run until May. CBS Media Ventures, which will present the station’s library of episodes of “Dr. Phil” for the 2023-2024 season and beyond. Classic episodes will include new content such as wraps and intros by McGraw. Guest Update.

McGrath — who got her big break on “Oprah” 25 years ago, focusing on social issues with her captivating audience — said her next chapter will focus on “strategic prime-time partnerships.” which will “increase its impact on television and viewers.” He did not mention problems with advertisers in announcing his decision to quit.

“I am compelled to engage with a broader audience because I have strong concerns for the American family, and I am committed to helping to clarify the cause as well as restore our core values,” McGrath said. “

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