Oprah Tops Wheel

The big ratings news for the week ending May 22 was arguably the bump in the road for game show Wheel of Fortune, which was down for the third week in a row to a new season low, the only strip to achieve that dubious distinction.

King World's Wheel dropped out of the top spot in syndication for the first time since Sept. 13, 2004.

For the week, Wheel was down 2% to a 7.9 and down 6% year-to-year. The good news is that it still out-rates every other show in syndication but one, and gave up that top spot to another King World show, Oprah, the first time she was tops in households since the summer of 1992.

Ratings for most syndicated shows, especially daytime, were higher for the week, which included the third full week of the sweep.

Although HUT (homes using television) levels were up less than 1% from the week before, the women 18-34 demo in daytime was up 4%, or about 209,000 viewers, on average as colleges began letting out.

In talk, moving up over the week before were Oprah, up 1% to an 8.1; Dr Phil, up 4% to a 5.9, Live With Regis & Kelly, up 6% to a 3.6; Jerry Springer, up 10% to a 2.3; Ellen Degeneres, up 5% to a 2.2 (the largest year-to-year gain of any talk show, up 10% from last year); rookie Tony Danza, up 8% to a 1.3; and Starting Over, up 9% to a 1.2.

Judge Judy ruled the courtroom genre, with a 5.0, up 6% in households.  Judge Joe Brown hit its highest rating in eight weeks, a 3.4, up 3%.Others gaining ground: Divorce Court, up 4% to a 2.8; Judge Mathis, up 4% to a 2.5; and Judge Hatchett, up 6% to a 1,8.

In the access space, syndicated rookie champ, The Insider, was the only first-run show to improve over the prior week, up 4% to a 2.7. ET remained solidly in the lead with a 5.0, down 2% from the previous week.

ET's weekend version, meanwhile, continued to roll, up 10% to a 3.4 on top of an 11% increase the previous week. The theme song for the other top mags was "unchanged melody." Inside edition was unchanged at a 3.3; Access Hollywood held steady at a 2.5, and Extra was flat at a 2.2.

Top off-net sitcoms were a mixed bag. Everybody Loves Raymond was unchanged at a 6.6; Seinfeld was up 7% to a 6.0; and Friends was down 4% to a 5.1.

On the weekend, CSI led the off-net weekly hours with a 4.7, down 13%.

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.