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Olympic Zone Upsets Syndicated Sweeps

The beginning of the Olympics, and with it NBC’s new Olympic Zone access show, wreaked havoc with the 7-8 p.m. time period for the week ending Feb. 12.

During the first full week of the February sweep, many shows in access slots on NBC affiliates were preempted by Zone, the 30-minute local-slanted Olympic pre-show, a co-production between NBC and each local affiliate. The show debuted Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Entertainment Tonight was the only show in access time periods to hit a season high, according to the live-plus-same-day syndication ratings, registering a 5.7 average rating, up 6%, despite being pre-empted in three of the top 20 markets by Olympic programming.

The weekly number was buoyed by a 6.3 on Thursday, Feb. 9, a show that featured coverage from the previous night’s Grammy Awards.

Inside Edition was second in the news magazine genre with a 3.8, up 6% for the week, followed by The Insider at a 3.0, up 7% for the week. Access Hollywood, which lost many top markets since it was carried heavily on NBC affiliates, was off only 7% for the week to a 2.6. 

Extra was pre-empted so often that it only recorded a two-day average, which was flat from the previous week at a 2.4. Many NBC affiliates chose to run the NBC Universal-produced Access Hollywood in Extra time slots if Olympic Zone pre-empted the regular airing of Access.

None of the syndicated talk shows were down for the week, and both Dr. Phil and Starting Over set or matched season highs. Dr. Phil was up 5% for the week to a season-best 5.8, while Starting Over jumped 9% to equal its season high 1.2 rating.

Oprah led the way as usual in the category, up 3% to a 7.8. Live with Regis and Kelly was up 9% to a 3.7, its best average in seven weeks. Maury was next with a 3.0, flat from the prior week, while Ellen was also flat at a 2.6 despite a slew of Olympic preemptions.

Among the rookie talkers, Martha was up 6% to a 1.8, while The Tyra Banks Show was up 13% to a 1.7.

The court genre also held steady this week, though year-to-year declines continue to plague the category. Judge Judy was flat for the week at a 5.1, but down 6% year-to-year. Judge Joe Brown was up 3% on the week to a 3.3, but off 11% from last year. 

People’s Court was the only court show up year-over-year. Its 2.9 rating was flat for the week but up 7% from the corresponding week last year.  Divorce Court weighed in at a 2.7, up 4% on the week but down 7% for the year, while freshman Judge Alex was up 5% for the week to a 2.3

Year-over-year audience erosion also continued among the top game shows. Wheel of Fortune was off 8% on the year to an 8.9, while Jeopardy! was down 11% from a year ago to a 7.3.