Games, Magazines Lead Ratings Rise

The national Nielsen ratings for most of the top syndicated game shows and magazines were up for the week ended Jan. 15, with the top magazines getting a bump from the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie baby story.

The increases for the mags came despite large drops in PUT (people using television) levels. Compared with the week before, when the Jan. 2 holiday spiked viewership, there were more than 7 million fewer viewers on average for the week.

The top three game shows were all higher for the week, although they were down from the year-ago period. By contrast, the court shows were heading south for the week, while the talkers were all over the map.

Even though they were down from last year, three game shows recorded new season highs: Wheel of Fortune, 9.0, up 1% but down 11%; Jeopardy!, 7.4, up 6% but off 10%; and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, 3.5, up 6% but down 5%.

The top magazine, Entertainment Tonight, saw its best ratings in seven weeks, tying its season high of a 5.5 in households, up 2% from the week before, and logging a 3.2 in women 18-49, up 10%. ET appears likely to retain its grip on the top spot. During NATPE last week, distributor Paramount Television announced that the show has been renewed for its longest license term ever: six years, through 2012, in 60% of the country.

ET spinoff The Insider, the No. 3 magazine, was also renewed for six years, in five of the top six TV markets. In the week ended Jan. 15, it tied its personal-best rating with a 3.1, up 7% in households and 13% in women 18-49 to a 1.7. Insider recorded the biggest increase over last year of any strip in syndication, 11%.

Inside Edition, the No. 2 magazine, was unchanged at a 3.6.

Among the court shows, leader Judge Judy was down 2% for the week to a 5.1, and Judge Joe Brown was down 3% to a 3.2. Year-to-year, Judy was down 6% while Joe was down 14%.

The only veteran court show to improve from the previous week was The People's Court, up 4% to a 2.9 in third place. Divorce Court was unchanged at a 2.6; Judge Mathis was down 8% to a 2.3, tying Judge Alex, which was up 5%.

Among the talkers, the show with the biggest percentage increase week-to-week was Starting Over, 22% to a 1.1.

The other gainers were Dr. Phil, 4% to a 5.4, and Live With Regis and Kelly, 9% to a 3.5.

Losing ground were leader The Oprah Winfrey Show, off 3% to a 6.8; Maury, 10% to a 2.7; and The Ellen Degeneres Show, down 4% to a 2.4 but still up 4% from last year.

Rookie talker Martha improved by 6% to a 1.7, while the recently renewed Tyra Banks Show got a 1.6, unchanged from the previous week. In key female demos, Tyra outrated the older-skewing Martha across the board, even including women 25-54.

In the off-net area, Everybody Loves Raymond rose 2% to a 6.7; Seinfeld was next at a 5.8, up 4%, while Friends averaged a 5.2, up 2% for the week.

On the weekend, the top off-net weekly hour, CSI, was up 6% to a 5.5, matching its season high. The top first-run weekly hour, ET Weekend, was flat at a 2.7.

Among the rookie hours, Alias and 24 each recorded a 2.5. Alias was down 4%, while 24 was up 9% for the week, tying its personal best.

Next in line: DaVinci's Inquest at a 2.0, matching its season high and up 5% for the week, followed by Smallville at a 1.7, off 11% and tied with Star Trek: Enterprise, which was up 42% to a season high after recording a season low the previous week (ratings for weekly shows can be volatile, as a single preemption can knock their numbers for a loop). Stargate: Atlantis was flat for the week at a 1.6.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.