Mags, Talkers Trend Up

Syndicated series generally performed well the week ending May 14, particularly magazines and talk shows.

Four of the five nationally rated magazines were up in the second week of the May sweep, but only one, The Insider, was up both week to week and year to year.

Insider recorded a 2.7 rating, its highest in nine weeks. That was due in large part to an explosive May 11 interview with famous philanderer Joey Buttafuoco that plated out more like a Jerry Springer outtake than an access mag segment.

In the interview, which helped the show score a 3.0 rating (up a whopping 20% from the week before), Buttafuoco confronted his former lover, the so-called Long Island Lolita, Amy Fisher, then stormed off the set telling Fisher during a bleep-filled tirade to burn in hell.

For the week, Insider was up 8% and up 4% over last year at this time. Entertainment Tonight was the highest rated mag by a wide margin with a 5.0, up 2% for the week and off just 2% for the year. Inside Edition was flat at a 3.4 and up 3% from last year; Access Hollywood, in fourth, had a 2.5, up 9% for the week, although flat year to year.

Extra!, at a 2.2, was up 5% from the week before and even with last year. Seven of the 11 talk shows moved higher, two were unchanged, and two moved lower. Only one talker hit a new season low, Martha, down 13% to a 1.4.

Rival talk rookie Tyra Banks, meanwhile, was up 6% to a 1.7. In key female demos, Tyra was the highest rated new talk show, or freshman show of any genre for that matter. Top talker Oprah was up 3% to a 7.2, but down 10% from last year. Dr. Phil earned a 5.6, up 10% for the week, though down 2% from last year. Live With Regis & Kelly was up 3% to a 3.4 and even with last year.

Maury was up 4% to a 2.6, but down 13% from last year. Ellen Degeneres, the only talk show that was up over last year, was up 10% year to year and up 5% for the week to a 2.2. Montel was down 5% to a 1.9 and had the biggest year-to-year decline of any talker, down 21%. The real Jerry Springer, which lost ratings when it cut down on the chairs and fisticuffs, hit a 1.8, up 6% for the week but was down 14% from last year.

Among court shows, Judge Judy had a 4.7 rating, up 4% for the week but unchanged from last year. Judge Joe Brown had a 3.1, up 3% for the week but down 6% from last year. There was a tie for third. People's Court recorded a 2.7, up 4% week to week and year to year, and Divorce Court, whose 2.7 was up 8% for the week and flat from last year.

Game shows saw little movement. Wheel was up 1% to a 7.9, while it was down 2% from last year. Jeopardy was unchanged at a 6.4, but was down 10% from a year ago.

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.