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'Doctors' Feels Good

Can The Doctors give syndication a shot in the arm? CBS is hoping so after the new talk show on all-things-medical premiered last Monday to a 1.6 household rating/4 share in the weighted metered markets, according to Nielsen Media Research.

After two days, it averaged a 1.5/4, off 12% from its lead-in and 17% from its year-ago time period average.

While the show turned in the strongest launch since CBS's Rachael Ray opened in 2006 with a 2.8/9, The Doctors—cleared on strong time periods on the CBS stations in top markets—will need to see strong growth if it's going to turn into the next big syndication hit.

“It's not where we plan on settling, but it's a great running start,” says Executive Producer Jay McGraw.

The second-highest-rated syndie launch so far this season came from NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal, which premiered with a 1.3/3 two-day average, down 7% from both its lead-in and year-ago time period average.

Deal or No Deal got off to a very strong start, improving time periods from coast to coast, including seven of the top 10 markets,” says Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic Television. “It also retained almost all of its lead-in.”

In third place was Warner Bros.' The Bonnie Hunt Show, which averaged a 1.0/3 over its first two days, down 29% from its lead-in and 9% from its September 2007 time-period average.

“I think it did exactly what we expected it to do,” says Ken Werner, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. “We generally expect to be down a little bit at launch. Over time, we expect to eventually grow.”

Finally, the two new court shows each averaged a 0.9/3 over the two days. Program Partners' Family Court With Judge Penny was up 13% versus both its lead-in and year-ago time period average, while Sony's Judge Karen was down 11% from both its lead-in and year-ago time period averages.

Several rookies still are scheduled to debut: Debmar-Mercury's Trivial Pursuit and Tyler Perry's House of Payne open Sept. 22, while Litton's Storm Stories premieres Sept. 29.


Viewers across the country got a surprise on Sept. 8, when they expected to see the season premiere of Oprah, Judge Judy or their local news, and found themselves watching the men's finals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament. Not all viewers liked the decision.

CBS was forced to reschedule the live final, ultimately won by Roger Federer, after the semi-final between Spain's Rafael Nadal and Scotsman Andy Murray was rained out on Sept. 6.

“We encouraged our affiliates to air the match live, but in the end the decision was theirs,” says a CBS spokeswoman.

The decision proved to be a toss-up for stations: Airing tennis excluded viewers who wanted to see the season premiere of Oprah, which featured 100 Olympic athletes, including Michael Phelps and Kobe Bryant. Other late afternoon shows such as CBS's Judge Judy and early evening local newscasts also were heavily preempted.

Over all, some 90% of CBS affiliates opted to air the tennis match, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, often moving it to a sister station, digital channel or online.