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'Deal', 'Doctors', 'Bonnie' Grow Throughout Sweeps

Syndication’s two rookies -- NBC Universal’s Deal or No Deal and CBS Television’s The Doctors -- each showed strong growth from their September premieres through November sweeps.
Deal improved 13% from September to a 1.8 live plus same day monthly household average for the sweep, which ran from Oct. 30 through Nov. 26. The Doctors, just renewed for season two, chalked up an even bigger increase, climbing 31% over its premiere week to a 1.7. In addition, The Doctors finished first or second in its time slots in 20 of the 56 markets.

Meanwhile, Sony’s Judge Karen dropped 9% from its debut week to a 1.0 average. Warner Bros.’ Bonnie Hunt climbed 13% from its 0.8 premiere to a 0.9. Program Partners’ Family Court with Judge Penny and Debmar-Mercury’s Trivial Pursuit: America Plays each was flat at a 0.6.

Most veterans were down year to year in November, which saw plenty of preemptions and competition from coverage of major news events including the presidential election, endless bad economic news and the terror attacks in Mumbai, India, over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Still, Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres had something to brag about, with the biggest year-to-year increase of any strip in syndication that averages better than a 1.4 household rating. In its sixth season, Ellen jumped 14% in households over last November to a 2.4. It also moved up 20% among young women 18-34. Ellen ended the ratings period with its best weekly numbers of the season, hitting a 2.5 in the week ended Nov. 30, which included the long Thanksgiving weekend, to rank fourth among all talk shows. That put Ellen only four-tenths of a ratings point behind Disney-ABC’s third place Live with Regis and Kelly, which fell 10% year to year to a 2.8 average.

At the top of the list, CTD’s The Oprah Winfrey Show fell 11% to a 5.6 sweeps average. Oprah also finished her 500th week in a row as the top talk show at a 4.9 for the week. CTD’s Dr. Phil, in second place, dropped 29% to a 3.6, although Phil ended the sweep at a new season high 3.7 in the final week, outperforming its average lead-in during the sweep by 50% in the metered markets.

CTD’s Rachael Ray fell 10% to a 1.9, although the show won the time periods in nine of the top 40 markets, including New York and West Palm Beach, Fla., where the show improved 70% over last November.

NBC Universal’s Maury fell 5% to a 1.9. Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks, which will move to The CW in the fall, was flat at a 1.1. That tied NBC U’s Jerry Springer, which fell 21%, and NBC U’s Steve Wilkos, which gained 22%, making it syndication’s biggest year-to-year gainer. In its second season, Wilkos also improved 14% in total viewers and 17% in women 18-49 and women 25-54 compared to last November.

Twentieth’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet was flat at a 0.9, although it increased by double-digits over last November in most of the top-ten markets, including a 40% improvement in New York.

NBC U’s Martha Stewart plunged 36% to a 0.7, but showed year-to-growth in most of the top 30 markets, including gains of 80% in Chicago, 73% in Sacramento and 100% in San Diego.

CTD’s Judge Judy remained the court-show leader, dropping 10% year-to-year to a 4.5, marking court’s smallest decline. Judy out-rated its nearest court rival by 96%. In second place, CTD’s Judge Joe Brown dropped 18% to a 2.3. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court fell 16% to a 2.1. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis declined 18% to a 1.8. Twentieth’s Judge Alex lost 16% to a 1.6. Twentieth’s Divorce Court plunged 21% to a 1.5. Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court fell 15% to a 1.1. Sony’s Judge David Young dropped 11% to a 0.8.

Game shows were down across the board. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune, syndication’s top-rated show in households, fell 7% to a 7.5. CTD’s Jeopardy! slid 10% to a 6.0. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire tumbled 17% to a 2.5. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud fell 17% to a 1.5.

Among the magazines, CTD’s Entertainment Tonight widened its margin over the field, although it dropped  15% from last November to a 4.5. CTD’s Inside Edition dropped 17% to a 3.0. Warner Bros.’ TMZ bucked the trend to gain 11% to a 2.1. CTD’s The Insider and NBC U’s Access Hollywood each fell 27% to a 1.9, while Warner Bros.’ Extra dipped just 6% to a 1.7.

Among the off-net sitcoms, Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men was one of two shows to improve year to year, gaining 13% from last November to a 5.2. Twentieth’s Family Guy dipped 2% to a 4.2. Sony’s Seinfeld, in its 14th season, dropped 10% to a 3.6. CTD’s Everybody Loves Raymond, in its eighth season, lost 27% to a 3.2. Warner Bros.’ sophomore George Lopez, the other gainer, was up 7% to a 2.9. Sony’s King of Queens, in its sixth season, dropped 13% to a 2.6, tying Warner Bros.’ Friends, which was down 10% to a 2.6 in its 11th season.

Litton’s off-cable Storm Stories averaged a 1.3 in its first sweep, up 30% from its premiere. Debmar-Mercury’s off-TBS strip House of Payne averaged a 2.1, up 5% from its September premiere.

Disney-ABC’s first-run action hour Legend of the Seeker clocked a 2.4 and more than 3.6 million viewers in its first month on the air.