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'Ellen' Premiere With Caitlyn Jenner Ties Best Season Debut Since Start

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres tied its best season premiere ever on Tuesday, Sept. 8, with a show that featured Caitlyn Jenner and was taped in New York.

Ellen’s 13th season premiere debuted with a 3.2 rating/9 share primary-run household average in the weighted metered markets, according to Nielsen Media Research, up 33% from the show’s Sept. 2014 average. The show’s best performance came in WHIO Dayton, Ohio, where it scored a 10.2/24 at 4 p.m. It also turned in its biggest audience ever among women 25-54 on WNBC New York, where it averaged a 3.1/20 in that key demographic.

Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael also had a strong premiere on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7. Like Ellen, the show scored a 3.2/9 primary-run household average in the weighted metered markets, up 10% from last year’s opener and that show’s second-highest season premiere since 2007. Only Michael Strahan’s introduction to the show as permanent co-host in 2012 did better. Live also won its time period in eight of the top ten markets.

With the new fall season coming into focus, most of syndication was in repeats in the week ended Aug. 30, the most recent week for which national ratings are available.

The only exception to this trend was the entertainment magazines, which were boosted by coverage of Donald Trump’s ongoing feud with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.

CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight led the category with a 3% uptick to a 3.0. Also improving were NBCUniversal’s Access Hollywood, which spiked 6% to a 1.7 and shot up 31% from last year at this time, the strongest annual increase of any magazine. Warner Bros.’ Extra surged 8% to a 1.4, that show’s highest rating since the week of May 18. Twentieth’s Dish Nation grew 10% to a 1.1. Trifecta’s OK! TV rose 50% to a 0.3 from a 0.2, breaking a 10-week streak at a 0.2.

CTD’s Inside Edition, which is not strictly an entertainment magazine, slipped 2% to a second-place 2.9, while Warner Bros.’ TMZ and CTD’s The Insider both were flat at a 1.8 and 1.2, respectively.

In daytime, NBCU’s Meredith Vieira, heading into season two, was the only one of 13 talkers to improve, advancing 11% to an 11-week high 1.0, and topping CTD’s The Doctors and Warner Bros.’ The Real for the first time since the week of Jan. 5.

CTD’s Dr. Phil and Live with Kelly and Michael tied to lead the talkers at a 2.5, with Phil dropping 4% and Live flat with both shows in a week of repeats and repackaged episodes. NBCU’s Maury took third place for the eighth straight session, dipping 5% to a 1.8, but still improving 6% from last year. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, PhilLive and Maury finished in a three-way tie for first with a 1.2.

Ellen and NBCU’s Steve Harvey were unchanged for the week at a 1.7 and 1.5, respectively, although Harvey grew 7% from last year. Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz, NBCU’s Steve Wilkos and NBCU’s Jerry Springer each eased 8% to a 1.2, tying CTD’s Rachael Ray, which was steady. That marked a new season low for Wilkos, and growth of 9% from last year for SpringerOz and RachaelRay were flat year to year.

Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams weakened 9% to a new season-low 1.1, but was still up 22% from last year at this time, and the biggest annual increase of any talker. CTD’s The Doctors stood pat at a 0.9, while Warner Bros.’ The Real retreated 11% to a last place 0.8.

Debmar-Mercury and Tegna’s test of T.D. Jakes, which began Aug. 17, averaged a 0.8/2 across its four metered markets after three weeks. Compared to its 1.3/4 lead-in, Jakes is down 38%, while it’s down 20% compared to its 1.0/3 August 2014 time period average. Among women 25-54, Jakes averaged a 0.3/2, a 57% compared to its 0.7/4 lead-in and a 40% drop from its year-ago time-period demo average of 0.5/3.

That said, T.D. Jakes seems to be showing growth throughout its test. On Tuesday, Sept. 8, Jakes hit a 1.3/4 in Jakes’ home market of Dallas, about 20% over its 15-day average. On WXIA Atlanta the show hit a 1.4/4, up 75% over its three-week average. On its double-run on duopoly station WATL Atlanta, the show scored a 1.4/3, nearly double its three-week average. In Minneapolis, Jakes rated a .7/3, up 25% over its three-week average, and in Cleveland, it turned in a 0.8/2, even with its 15-day average.

Back in the national ratings, courts were mixed.

CTD’s Judge Judy led the field with a 6.4, off 3%. Judy, which also was syndication’s highest-rated show for the tenth straight week, launches its 20th season later this month. CTD’s Hot Bench held on to second place even though it gave back 5% to a 1.9. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court dropped 6% to a 1.6. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis was flat at a 1.4, tying Twentieth’s Divorce Court, which grew 8%. MGM’s Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court and Trifecta’s Judge Faith both were flat at a 1.2 and 0.8, respectively.

Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud dipped 2% to a 6.1, but continued to lead the games for the tenth time in the past 12 weeks. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune also inched up 2% to move into second place, while CTD’s Jeopardy! and Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire each were flat at a 5.7 and 1.7, respectively. Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game retreated 8% to a 1.2.

Meanwhile, MGM’s RightThisMinute climbed 8% to a 1.4.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory gained 6% to a 5.5, marking the only weekly gainer among the top-ten off-net sitcoms. Twentieth’s Modern Family faded 9% to a 3.0, matching its previous series low. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men relinquished 3% to a 2.8. Twentieth’s Family Guy eased 4% to a 2.4. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly lost 9% to a 2.0. SPT’s Seinfeld slipped 5% to a 1.8, tying Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother, which also softened 5% to a 1.8 and Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show, which was unchanged. Warner Bros.’ The Middle and Twentieth’s King of the Hill were flat at a 1.7 and 1.5, respectively.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.