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Jennings Haunts Jeopardy

The ghost of Jeopardy player extraordinaire Ken Jennings haunted the game show in the Nielsen national barter rankings for the week ended June 26, the first full week of summer (which traditionally brings lower viewing levels).

Jennings, who made his first appearance on Jeopardy June 2, 2004, and was in the early stages of his months-long winning streak in the year-ago week, had lifted ratings to the point where comparisons will be tough in the months ahead.

The game show earned a 6.0 rating for the week, down 20% from the previous year, but up 3% from the previous week and up 6% for the entire season. (Jennings made it to the November sweeps and came back for the show’s "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" in May.)

Overall, talk performed the best during the week, with three shows up by double digits.

Reruns of Starting Over climbed 13% week-to-week to a 0.9 (flat with a year ago); Dr. Phil grew 12% to a 4.6 and 15% for the year, and Montel jumped 12% to a 2.2 as a result of a big boost in women 18-34. It earned a 1.4 in the demo, its best mark since May.

Ratings for reruns of talk show leader Oprah were up 2% to a 5.7, but dropped 12% from a year ago.

Court shows experienced some improvement during the week, with leader Judge Judy (4.5), Judge Joe Brown (3.1), and Judge Hatchett (1.7) each up by single digits for the week. Hatchett experienced the biggest decline from a year ago, down 11%.

None of the top 10 off-net sitcoms improved, with two of the biggest, Everybody Loves Raymond (5.4) and Friends (4.5), hitting season lows along with the aging Home Improvement (2.1).