Full Court Press

Amid the heap of ho-hum summer ratings, a diminutive judge stood out during the week ended Aug. 14. Paramount’s Judge Judy ranked eighth overall in average audience (AA) for households, posting a 2% gain both week-to-week and year-to-year to 4.7 in Nielsen’s national barter ratings.

But the show, which is heavily double-run in early-fringe time periods in a number of markets, earned a 7.3 gross-average-audience (GAA) mark—the measurement used by advertisers—and ranked second in the category behind King World’s top-rated Wheel of Fortune (7.4 AA and GAA). In fact, the usual GAA frontrunner, Sony’s off-network episodes of Seinfeld, finished a distant third behind Judy with a 6.8.

The off-network sitcoms returned to their usual pecking order during the week. King World’s Everybody Loves Raymond, at a 5.5 AA, was flat, and Seinfeld (5.4) was down 4%. Warner Bros.’ Friends plummeted 27% to 4.9 to land in its usual third-place standing among the comedy reruns, giving back most of its previous week’s gain stemming from a Friends marathon on TBS.

Court is one of the strongest syndication categories, prompting many stations to pair court programs in strong time periods. Judy has been on a roll, thanks to upgrades and additional runs in top-10 markets. Warner Bros.’ The People’s Court (up 13% to 2.6) and Judge Mathis (9% to 2.4) saw the most year-to-year improvement. Besides Judy, four court shows were higher for the week: Paramount’s Judge Joe Brown (up 3% to 3.1), The People’s Court (4% to 2.6) and Twentieth TV’s Divorce Court (4% to 2.6).

Top talk shows had a good week, as they often do when young people are on break from school. King World’s Oprah Winfrey Show climbed 2% to 5.6 to lead the genre, and Dr. Phil increased 2% to 4.2. Buena Vista’s Live With Regis and Kelly gained 6% to 3.5, and NBC Universal’s Maury was up 7% at 3.1. Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres Show saw the biggest year-to-year leap, 14% to 1.6, while Paramount’s Montel Williams dropped 16% to 2.1.

Newsmagazines did not fare well during the weekdays. Leader Entertainment Tonight (4.2) and companion The Insider (2.3) were hard hit by sports preemptions in some top markets on Aug. 12. The weekly hours, however, showed strong numbers. ET Weekend saw its ratings pop to the highest level in 10 weeks, spurred by interest in Peter Jennings. It hit a 3.0 household rating (up 7%) and was up 22% in women 18-34.