Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest Specialize in Small Talk and Big Ratings

Through the first 10 weeks that have pitted Ms. Ripa and Mr. Seacrest against Ms. Kelly in the 9 a.m. slot, the ratings provide evidence that audiences agree with the strategy. “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” a syndicated program carried mainly by ABC affiliates, averages more than 3 million viewers. That’s 650,000 more than the number tuning in to the third hour of “Today,” a lead that has grown since Ms. Kelly joined NBC.

“Live” also has a big lead among viewers in the 25- to 54-year-old age group prized by sponsors. Last year, it brought in $183 million in revenue, according to Kantar Media, and that dollar figure is heading north. By comparison, the 9 a.m. hour of “Today” brought in $99 million last year.

Ms. Ripa, a former soap opera actress, joined “Live” in 2001 as Mr. Philbin’s co-host, replacing Ms. Gifford. Like Mr. Philbin — who retired in 2011 after logging more hours of airtime than anyone else in television history, according to Guinness — she has the ability to spin the smallest…

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