Hoops Sink Syndie Ratings

Final Four Cinderella story George Mason University - along with the 63 other teams in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - ran roughshod over the national syndicated ratings for the week ending March 19.

"March Madness" tipped off on Thursday, March 16, on CBS, causing numerous preemptions on CBS stations and increased competition across the board.

No one was harder hit by the college hoops than talk-show twin towers Oprah and Dr. Phil, who hit season lows on the week; both air on numerous CBS affiliates in major markets. Oprah fell 21% on the week to an average 5.8, which was also down 5% year-to-year. Dr. Phil was off 13% on the week to a 4.6, down 4% year-to-year.

Live With Regis and Kelly also fell 3% on the week to a 3.5, while Maury was off 4% to a 2.7. Some talkers did buck the trend, though, including Montel, which gained 5% on the week to a 2.1, and Starting Over, up 20% to tie a season-high 1.2. Both rookie talkers also were up on the week; Martha was up 13% to a 1.8, and The Tyra Banks Show wasup 6% to a 1.7.

And while Tony Danza told audiences last week that his show would not be back next season, his ratings were up 10% to a 1.1 for the week.

Twentieth Television announced Monday that this season will be the last for Judge Mablean Ephriam on Divorce Court, but the show was one of the few court shows to trend up for the week. The show, which will be hosted by Judge Lynn Toler next year (Twentieth and Ephraim couldn’t agree on a new deal), was up 8% on the week to a 2.8.

Elsewhere in court, Judge Judy was off 2% to a 4.8, Judge Joe Brown was down 3% to a 3.1, People’s Court fell 3% to a 2.8 and rookie Judge Alex was up 5% to a 2.3.

The NCAA tournament also had a major effect on the entertainment newsmagazines, as genre-topper Entertainment Tonight fell 13% on the week to a 4.9, due in part to numerous preemptions. The show lost 26 metered markets, including all of the top five, for part of the week.

ET spinoff The Insider suffered a similar fate, down 14% on the week to a 2.5. Both shows, however, were up 9% year-over-year.
Inside Edition
fell 11% on the week to a 3.3, Access Hollywood was off 4% to a 2.6, and Extra lost 8% to a 2.2.