Dr. Phil is suing Deadspin for stupid reasons

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Frivolous lawsuits are one of the top five things that are slowly ruining this great country of ours.

In related news, the people behind Dr. Phil are suing Gawker Media and Deadspin in particular for publishing information spoiling a "cliffhanger" for the second of a two-part episode involving Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.  Here's more from Yahoo:

In the suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Texas on Tuesday, Peteski claims that Gawker-owned sports blog Deadspin published the February 1 episode of "Dr. Phil" – on which Tuiasosopo demonstrated "the voice" of fake girlfriend Lennay Kekua, which he used to dupe Te'o – before the episode aired to most of its audience.

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According to the lawsuit, Deadspin's early posting of the episode – the second of a two-part interview with Tuiasosopo – had a negative effect on the episode's ratings, because it spoiled the cliffhanger of whether he would demonstrate the Kekua voice.

"In a premeditated plan to steal Peteski's copyrighted material, Deadspin posted the video of the second show to the Deadspin blog not later than 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, hours before the Dr. Phil Show aired to over 98 percent of its viewers," the complaint reads. "Although the second show was expected to exceed the ratings number of the first show, in fact, the ratings declined substantially because the result of the 'CLIFFHANGER' was no longer in doubt. It had been misappropriated by Deadspin."  

So the people behind Dr. Phil are upset with Deadspin for writing about their show after it hit the airwaves in just 2% of markets?  Isn't that a Dr. Phil problem instead of a Gawker Media problem?  Were they supposed to ask Dr. Phil permission for "spoiling" an episode that had already aired publicly?

At this point in time, the Manti Te'o caper was beginning to fade from the limelight.  in January it was the hottest story not just in sports, but probably in all the country.  By the first of February, Te'o had already spoken to Katie Couric and the story was settling in to its conclusion, although it clearly drew some interest.  Deadspin naturally published two posts on the two episodes in question about Tuiasosopo because they were the site that brought him to the attention of the American public.

If there's one thing Gawker does well, it's respond to lawsuits.  That MASSIVE drop in ratings that Deadspin was the root cause of?  The numbers seem to tell a different story as Gawker's Tom Scocca responds:

According to Broadcasting & Cable, the first and second parts of the interview drew 4.8 million and 4.3 million viewers respectively, exceeding the show's average of 4.1 million. That performance helped make Dr. Phil the No. 1 rated syndicated talk show for that sweeps period.

The two posts on Deadspin that dealt with the interview have received, as of this writing, a total of 164,428 pageviews. That's 1.8 percent of the 9.1 million total viewers that Dr. Phil drew with the interview.

The lawsuit specifically claims that Deadspin's second-day post caused viewership to drop between the first and second parts of the interview. That post has 103,342 pageviews; Dr. Phil lost 500,000 viewers. So by Dr. Phil's account, Deadspin's use of the video clip discouraged some 400,000 people from watching the program even though they could not possibly have seen the video clip on Deadspin.  

Maybe, just maybe, it could be that those hundreds of thousands of people who dropped off between episodes 1 and 2 just didn't care to see the ending.  It's times like this I'm thankful this is a wesbite about sports and not about the other pratfalls of daytime television.

So unless every single one of those 103,342 people each called between 4-5 of their friends that were planning to watch Dr. Phil that day and spoiled the "dramatic" cliffhanger of Tuiasosopo doing the Lennay Kekua voice, this lawsuit seems like it'll have a tough time getting off the ground… like most frivolous lawsuits.  

And that is hopefully the last time this site will feel compelled to write about Dr. Phil.

Matt Yoder

About Matt Yoder

Managing Editor of Awful Announcing and award winning sportswriter. Bloguin consigliere. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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