In Focus

Thanks to 'Oprah'

Talk was no turkey in the week ended Nov. 27—encompassing Thanksgiving and the third full week of sweeps—in the Nielsen national syndication rankings. With most barter shows relying only on Monday-Wednesday ratings averages, King World's Oprah Winfrey Show reigned supreme with a new season-high average household rating of 9.0. It was the top-rated show in syndication for the week.

The show was up 8% for the week and 27% for the year on the strength of Winfrey's 20th-anniversary follow-up show, “Oprah's Favorite Things 2005” (her highest-rated episode of the week), and an appearance by Rachael Ray, who will have her own King World syndicated lifestyle series in 2006.

Next in line, Buena Vista Television's Live With Regis and Kelly earned an average 3.8 rating for the week, with the season-high mark giving it a 3% gain for the week and 9% advantage year-to-year.

Other season highs: NBC Universal's Maury (a four-day average of 3.1, up 11% for the week and 3% for the year), Telepictures' Ellen (2.6, matching her best score ever, an increase of 8% for the week and 18% for the year), Paramount's Montel (2.3, climbing 10% over the four-day average for the week but down 4% for the year) and NBC U's Starting Over (a four-day 1.2, up 20% from last week and flat year-to-year).

Of the major talk shows, only King World's Dr. Phil (5.3) fell, dropping 5% on the week and 10% from the previous year.

Among the freshman shows, based on four-day averages, Twentieth TV's Judge Alex continued to lead with a new series high, up 4% for the week to 2.4. Alex tied with Telepictures' Tyra Banks Show in women 25-54 (both at 1.3).—J.B.