Michael Strahan Talks TV Teamwork and New Tech

Former Footballer Now Holds Daytime-TV Spotlight

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When Disney's syndicated "Live with Kelly and Michael" began in early September, introducing Michael Strahan as Regis Philbin's successor on the former "Live With Regis and Kelly," the first week of episodes scored the highest ratings for the show's fall debut week in six years.

Kelly Ripa and new co-host Michael Strahan
Kelly Ripa and new co-host Michael Strahan

But the job isn't as easy as it might look, Mr. Strahan told Ad Age , even if he does co-host what he calls "a serious non-serious hour." And he's got a lot on his mind outside the "Live" studio, including his continuing duties as analyst during Fox's Sunday-afternoon football broadcasts and a number of equity stakes in different businesses. Indeed, if all goes well for Mr. Strahan, he may well have a TV show of his own ready for distribution by Amazon in the not-too-distant future.

In a conversation in the green room at "Live with Kelly and Michael," Mr. Strahan weighed in on talk-show logistics, his investment in a video-sharing app called Viddy, that "Saturday Night Live" parody and why his new role forces him to keep working out.

Our talk has been lightly edited.

Advertising Age: Morning TV is a grueling thing. It's day in and day out. It looks effortless on set, but it's really every day. How do you gear up for it?

Michael Strahan: It's work, but it's not the most difficult thing I've done. Listen, you get paid to talk, you don't complain, but outside of this I have businesses I work with. I have my own company. I love to work. Even with these different jobs going on, though it is difficult, I have time.

Ad Age : Have you ever taken any lessons from your time in football and working on the Fox programs that you can apply to the morning show even though they are very different worlds?

Mr. Strahan: They are very different worlds, but I think teamwork applies to any job that you're in in the business world. I definitely apply teamwork. This job, too, in a lot of ways is more different than Fox, because over there, they don't expect us to do anything physical, because we're all beat-up football players, whereas here, you have to do physical things. It forces me to work out and stay in some shape, because I never know when I might be running around in a leotard.

Ad Age : "Saturday Night Live" recently did a parody of you and Kelly Ripa, just days after your debut. Were you happy with the skit or taken aback by it?

Mr. Strahan: I had no idea it was coming. Because I have to be up so early for Fox, I was in bed, and I woke up to all of these emails and someone sent a clip in one of the emails. I was watching it at 5:30 in the morning and laughing. They should have put ["SNL" cast member Jay Pharaoh, who played Mr. Strahan] in a muscle suit, make me feel a little better about myself.

Ad Age : Was it a complement or an insult?

Mr. Strahan: That's a complement to me. How many of us have been watching "SNL," and it almost feels like, OK, when they start doing those parodies of you, it's a great thing. They care. If no one pays attention to you, that 's not a good thing in this business.

Ad Age : A lot of people would love to get products in your hands during the show, have you mention their names, have you wear their clothes. How do you feel about that practice? There's a lot more pressure these days for shows to take product placements.

Mr. Strahan: For us, on this show, we talk about things we actually use and without really having any involvement with the company. It's an innocent thing.

I have something called Smack Entertainment.... We have a production company and we are working on this show, the working title is "First and Ten." It's from a show back in the 80s on HBO. Amazon bought it and they are getting ready to shoot the pilot for Amazon... In a show like that , there are so many opportunities for brand integrations. There are ways outside of this show to bring attention to other things... When you are on TV daily like this, I don't want to get caught up and feel like I necessarily have to sell it on my show every day. This is my life and this is what my life is , and my outside projects, like what I'm doing on Amazon, we can do a lot of brand integrations. It's a different avenue for them to compete with Netflix, and all that .

Ad Age : Let's talk about football for a few minutes. What do you think of all the focus on concussions and protecting the players' heads. With all of this going on, do you think the game is getting a little soft?

Mr. Strahan: I think the NFL wants to protect the players and they want to protect themselves. You see all the lawsuits out there, and they only way to protect yourself from that is to institute some of these rules. The rules are followed under the discretion of the players, the decision-making of that player in that situation at that time, and it's very hard whenever you're running full-speed at somebody who ducks into your head when you hit going at a certain angle. You can't stop. But when you see blatant running into a guy leading with your head on purpose, that 's what it's meant to do.... Some of those hits, I look at some of that -- that 's football. It's a dangerous sport. We signed up for it. They don't pay us $5.95 an hour. They pay you quite a bit to go out there and take chances, and in that sense, that 's really what the game is about.

Ad Age : You're an investor in a Twitter-related video-sharing app called Viddy. What was the appeal for you?

Mr. Strahan: On Twitter, you can type your 140 characters or whatever and send your message. With Viddy, people really get to feel what you are feeling and how you are feeling it. They get a little bit of the essence. They get to live a little bit of your life and they can see it, they can feel it. They can hear you. They can see the expressions. I think that 's really important. You don't Viddy every second of your life.... But I think it's really cool to be able to show your fans or people who follow you on these platforms a little splash. It shows your personality, and I think that 's important for people.

Ad Age : The ratings for "Live" since you've joined have been quite good. What do you make of the surge and do you think it's sustainable?

Mr. Strahan: The ratings have been better than I think anybody expected and they have held up pretty well. As long as the show is fun and as long as we enjoy it, people at home are going to enjoy it, because I don't think there's anything else on TV like it, which is a good thing for us.

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