Hurricanes Take Wind Out of Syndication

Ratings for the week ending Sept. 26 were generally lower due to the loss of several Florida markets as Hurricane Jeanne approached and people turned off their TVs for the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur.

On average, syndicated viewing declined by approximately 434,000 households or about 2% from the prior week.

Ironically, King World’s Jeopardy!, which had been the highest rated show in syndication so far this season, took the biggest tumble of any strip, dropping from first place to third, down 16% to a 7.1 in a week without all-time champion Ken Jennings.

Although Jeopardy! preempted Jennings for the normally very popular $250,000 Tournament of Champions, the show lost an average 2,218,000 viewers per episode. King World’s Wheel of Fortune moved back to the top of the Nielsen chart, despite slipping 1% to an 8.3. King World’s The Oprah Winfrey Show, which fell 6% to a 7.3, also beat out Jeopardy!, moving into the number-two spot.

Oprah’s week-to-week decline was expected since it followed the show’s season premiere, inflated by the giveaway of more than $7 million worth of Pontiacs. The one-day rating for Oprah’s season opener scored a 9.9 rating. Overall, Oprah is up 21% comparing this season to last.

Other major talk shows managed to hold their prior-week ratings. Paramount’s number-two talker Dr. Phil beat Warner Bros.’ Friends for the first time this season, unchanged at a 5.1. That gave King World five out of the top-six strips in syndication this week.

Buena Vista’s Live with Regis and Kelly at a 3.2 and NBC Universal’s Maury at a 2.6 also were unchanged. Paramount’s Montel Williams dipped 4% to a 2.2. NBC Universal’s Jerry Springer was unchanged at a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ The Ellen DeGeneres Show had the biggest year-to-year improvement of any talker, gaining 38% from last year to a 1.8 and holding steady week-to-week.

The top-three court shows were all up strongly. Paramount’s Judge Judy, the strongest court show, was up 5% to a 4.3. Paramount’s Judge Joe Brown gained 4% to a 2.8. And Warner Bros.’ People’s Court jumped 14% to a 2.4, moving ahead of Twentieth’s Divorce Court, which dropped to fourth, down 4% to a 2.3.

Most magazines were higher, getting a boost from their Emmy coverage on Monday, Sept. 20. Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight, the number-one magazine, was up 2% to a 4.8, fueled by a 5.3 single-day rating on Monday.

King World’s Inside Edition, with a 3.6 on Monday, gained 6% to a 3.4 for the week. NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood scored a 3.0 for its Emmy coverage, but was unchanged at a 2.5. Warner Bros.’ Extra!, with a 2.9 for its Emmy recap, was up 5% to a 2.3. And Warner Bros.’ Celebrity Justice was up 11% to a 1.0.

In rookie action, King World’s new weekly off-net CSI was up 12% to an impressive 4.8 in its second week. NBC Universal’s stripped Fear Factor made its national syndication debut at a 1.6. That was behind Twentieth’s off-net Malcolm in the Middle at a 2.8, which was unchanged from its premiere week, and only slightly ahead of week two of Paramount’s Girlfriends, up 7% to a 1.5. Twentieth’s Yes, Dear was down 7% to a 1.4.

Among the new first-run strips, Paramount’s The Insider remained the leader for a second straight week, with ratings 53% higher than its nearest rookie rival, NBC Universal’s The Jane Pauley Show.

For the week, The Insider dipped 4% to a 2.3, although it scored its highest one-day rating since its premiere, a 2.5, for its Emmy recap. Jane Pauley in its fourth week was unchanged at a 1.5, although the effect of any downgrades will not start kicking in until next week.

Buena Vista’s The Tony Danza Show, which continues to be held back by late-night clearances in big markets, was down 8% to a 1.1 in week two. Danza still won its time periods in New York and Philadelphia, the only two markets in the top-five where it airs in daytime.

Twentieth’s Ambush Makeover, in the middle of a nationwide promotional bus tour, jumped 22% to a 1.1, moving ahead of NBC Universal’s Home Delivery, which was flat at a 0.9, and tying Tony Danza for third place.

Warner Bros.’ Larry Elder was unchanged at a 0.8. Sony’s Pat Croce: Moving In was up 17% to a 0.7, and Sony’s Life & Style was unchanged at a 0.5.

Paige Albiniak

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.