There is no single replacement for Oprah Winfrey.
That is not necessarily a statement about the dominance of her 23-year-old television institution, “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Rather, it is the reality of television syndication.
As Ms. Winfrey prepares to leave the broadcast airwaves in two years, a stable of talk shows are in competition to fill her time slot on more than 200 stations across the country. Individual stations are bound to place differing bets, drastically reshaping the daytime TV landscape.
As with NBC and Jay Leno earlier this year, the television chess board is being rearranged by a talk show host. Ms. Winfrey’s departure could even affect the ratings for the network evening newscasts. “All of a sudden, there are so many moving pieces,” Bill Carroll, who recommends syndicated shows to stations for the Katz Television Group, said on Friday.
Even before Ms. Winfrey announced on Friday that 2011 would be, as she put it, the “exact right time” to step off her broadcast stage, TV executives were jostling on behalf ofEllen DeGeneres, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Phil McGraw and other hosts who aim to benefit from the syndication shake-up.
Analysts say that Ms. DeGeneres and Dr. Oz, in particular, stand to gain, because their deals with stations will come up for renewal at the same time that Ms. Winfrey intends to depart. Aspiring hosts could emerge as well. “I’m sure there are a number of people calling their agents today and saying, ‘I think I could be the next Oprah,’ ” Mr. Carroll said.