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Olympics Takes Toll On Syndies

NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympic Games ran roughshod over most of syndication in the week ending Aug. 17, with a few exceptions.

Only five strips managed to improve from the prior week and three of them were talk shows: NBC Universal’s Steve Wilkos jumped 13% to a 0.9 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, NBC Universal’s Jerry Springer climbed 10% to a 1.1 and NBC Universal’s Maury gained 6% to a 1.9. All three shows run in blocks on the Tribune stations in major markets, and target younger audiences.

And Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres, which airs on NBC-owned stations in many major markets, scored even ratings for the week but had the biggest increase of any strip in syndication compared to last year, growing 7% to a 1.6.

The rest of syndication mostly struggled against the Games, and many shows were preempted or moved to weaker time slots.

CBS’ Oprah fell 9% to a 3.9. CBS’ Dr. Phil fell 6% to a new season low 3.2. Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly dropped 11% to a 2.4, tying the show’s lowest rating since Nielsen established its current electronic database in 1991. CBS’ Rachael Ray fell 6% to a 1.6, tying Ellen. CBS’ Montel Williams slipped 9% to a new season low 1.0, tying Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks, which was flat. Twentieth’s The Morning Show fell 10% to a 0.9. NBC Universal’s Martha had no rating for the week because the show was broken out every day by Nielsen.

Two of the magazines were up from the prior week. NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood, which was broadcasting from Beijing and airs in access on NBC stations in big markets, climbed 24% to a 2.1 for third place.

CBS’ Entertainment Tonight held on to first place, gaining 3% to a 3.6. ET’s best show of the week came on Aug. 11, with reports on the deaths of comedian Bernie Mac and singer Isaac Hayes sending ratings up 14% to a 4.0.

CBS’ Inside Edition, remaining in second place, was flat at a 2.6. CBS’ The Insider and Warner Bros.’ TMZ each dipped 5% to a 1.8, while Warner Bros.’ Extra, which was completely preempted in six of the top 50 markets and relegated to weaker time slots in many other cities, fell 19% to an all-time series low 1.3.

Game shows had the toughest week of any genre. CBS’ Wheel of Fortune lost 10% to a 6.0. CBS’ Jeopardy! slipped 5% to a 5.2. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire sank 14% to a new season low 2.4. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud lost 6% to a 1.6 and Twentieth’s Temptation plunged 20% to a 0.4. Like Martha, Program Partners’ Crosswords was broken out for the week.

Court shows held fairly steady. CBS’ Judge Judy dipped 2% to a 4.3, but remained daytime’s top strip for the tenth week in a row. CBS’ Judge Joe Brown was unchanged at a 2.3. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court skidded 9% to a new season low 2.1, while Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis fell 6% to a 1.7. Twentieth’s Divorce Court, Twentieth’s Judge Alex, Sony’s Judge Hatchett and Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court all held steady at a 1.5, 1.5, 1.1 and 1.1, respectively. Sony’s Judge David Young fell 11% to a 0.8, while Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez lost 13% to a 0.7. Radar Entertainment’s Jury Duty was flat at a 0.2.

The off-net sitcoms also were weak as they faced Olympics competition in access and late night. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men fell 7% to a 4.2. Twentieth’s Family Guy faded 5% to a 3.7. Sony’s Seinfeld sank 12% to a new season low 3.0. CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond dropped 10% to a new season low 2.7, tying Warner Bros.’ George Lopez, which fell 7%. Warner Bros.’ Friends and Sony’s King of Queens each slipped 4% to a 2.5.