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Judy Has Bench Strength

Like King World's The Oprah Winfrey Show,
the undisputed queen of talk, Paramount's Judge Judy
has long been tops in the court genre. Often positioned in key early-fringe time slots that lead into local newscasts, Judge Judy
in the week ended Feb. 2 delivered a 5.7 national Nielsen rating, making it syndication's ninth-rated show in households, just behind Oprah.

In many markets, Judy
competes directly against Oprah
and, in New York City, routinely wins at 4 p.m. The fact that Judy
provides a strong 25-54 audience to lead into local news makes the show all the more valuable to stations.

"Judy is one of the largest early-fringe players," says John Nogawski, president of Paramount Domestic Television. "She is one of the best news lead-ins that stations can buy."

Tom DeCabia, executive vice president, PHD USA, says that, while Judge Judy
provides high ratings, its audience skews older and less affluent than Oprah's, meaning that a 30-second spot on Judy
costs less than the same spot on Oprah.

In Boston last year, Viacom's WBZ-TV/WSBK-TV duopoly moved Judge Judy
from UPN affiliate WSBK-TV to CBS affil WBZ-TV at 4 and 4:30 p.m., filling the slot left by Warner Bros.'The Rosie O'Donnell Show. Although the Boston stations (except Hearst-owned ABC affil WCVB-TV) can't provide ratings because they are boycotting Nielsen's people meters, Lee Kinberg, vice president of programming for WBZ-TV, says the station is happy with the show in its new hour. "It was the best show we could put in to compete with Oprah." The talk show runs on WCVB-TV.

Fox affiliate WTTG-TV Washington is using Judge Judy
to lead into its brand-new newscast at 5 p.m. The show is scoring an average 5.7 rating/13 share; the news, a 3.3/7. The animated kid shows that previously occupied Judge Judy's slot on WTTG-TV would not have been able to provide the news lead-in the station was looking for. "They can go after an advertiser they weren't having anything to do with before," Nogawski notes.

Judge Judy, which recently reupped with Paramount for four years at $25 million per year, has been on the air since 1996.