Most syndicated strips were slightly off in the May sweeps.
.One reason for the drop-off was that the sweep started about a week later this year, April 29 in 2004 versus April 24 in 2003, and ran into more warmer days with lower levels of homes using television (HUT). In addition, many shows did not air in various markets during the swee, due to coverage of Donald Rumsfeld's testimony, President Bush's speech on Iraq, and the 9/11 hearings.
Oprah was up 16% from May 2003 to a 7.2 average and Dr. Phil jumped 14% to a 5.6 average. It was Dr. Phil's best sweep ever in key female demos. Buena Vista's Live with Regis & Kelly scored a third-best 3.4 average, but was down 11% from last year when the show boosted its numbers by giving away a house. Universal's Maury slipped 6% to a 2.9. Paramount's Montel Williams was flat at a 2.5. And NBC Universal's The Jerry Springer Show lost 8% to a 2.2.
The three rookies already renewed for a second season out of this year's six-show freshman class all picked up steam in the sweep, but the stand-out was Warner Bros.' Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen, up 19% from the November sweep to a 1.9 average and held a 58% ratings advantage over its closest rookie competitor. Twentieth's On Air With Ryan Seacrest tied for the number-two spot with NBC Universal's Starting Over. Ryan was up 20% over its January debut to a 1.2 average and spiked 60% among women 25-54. Starting Over jumped 20% over its November sweeps numbers, also to a 1.2.
In the court show race, Paramount's Judge Judy was an easy winner with a 4.9 average, dipping 2% but nearly doubling the rating of any other jurist except Paramount colleague Judge Joe Brown. Brown in second place with a 3.4 average had a modest 3% decline from May 2003. Twentieth's Divorce Court was down 14% to a 2.5. Also at a 2.5 but up 19% was Warner Bros.' People's Court. Next in line was Warner Bros.' Judge Greg Mathis, which surged 21% to a 2.3. Sony's Judge Hatchett was up 24% to a 2.1 in sixth place, followed by Twentieth's Texas Justice, which fell 9% to a 2.0.
Buena Vista's Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Tribune's Family Feud were the only game shows to improve. Millionaire, which cracked the top-ten list among all strips in the sweep at number 10, was up 9% to a 3.5 and up 23% among women 25-54 to a 1.6. Family Feud was up 11% to a 2.0. King World's top game, Wheel of Fortune, was down 6% to a 8.3 and runner-up, King World's Jeopardy, was down 4% to 6.7, dropping to third place in overall syndication behind Oprah.
In the magazine race, Paramount's Entertainment Tonight won its 55th consecutive sweep with a 5.1 average, though down 6%. King World's Inside Edition was up 6% to a 3.3 average in second place, the show's best May performance in six years. NBC Universal's Access Hollywood was up 12% to a 2.8. Warner Bros.' Extra! was up 4% to a 2.6, while Warner Bros.' Celebrity Justice was down 8% to a 1.2.
Off-net sitcoms were soft, with four of the top five down by double-digits. Sony's Seinfeld slid 11% to a 5.9. Warner Bros.' Friends dropped 15% to a 5.6. King World's Everybody Loves Raymond declined 13% to a 5.4. Carsey-Werner-Mandabach's That 70s Show was down 5% to a 3.5. And Warner Bros.' Will & Grace was down 13% to a 3.4.
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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.