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Rachael Ray Stabilizing

King World’s Rachael Ray, which debuted in September with a 2.3 national rating then declined after its initial sampling, appears to be stabilizing at a still healthy 2.0 mark, according to Nielsen figures for the week ended Oct. 15.

With Ray in its fourth national syndication ratings outing, the talk show has held steady in its past two Nielsen frames.

Saddled with poor lead-ins in a number of top-10 markets, Ray nonetheless saw a slight improvement in viewers during the latest week, averaging more than 2.5 million per episode, and remained the dominant new talk show.

Telepictures’ Keith Ablow was flat at a 0.9 and in sole possession of second place. After starting at a 1.0, Ablow has since remained even at a 0.9.

NBC Universal’s Megan Mullally dropped 11% from a 0.9 to 0.8. It has bounced around between the two numbers over its four weeks. Neither of its major market downgrades in New York last week or Los Angeles this week is reflected in this latest sample.

Sony Pictures Television’s Greg Behrendt finished down 13%, slipping from 0.8 to a new low of 0.7. It had started at a 0.9 and then spent weeks two-four at a 0.8.

Among the new court shows, Twentieth TV’s Christina’s Court is back up 8% to a 1.4, having remained in a fairly narrow 1.3-1.4 range since its debut in September.

SPT’s Judge Maria Lopez climbed 13% from a 0.8 to 0.9, a space it has been in since its 1.0-rated debut.

Twentieth’s Geraldo at Large, impacted by baseball preemptions the past few weeks, slipped 7% to 1.3, a new low over four days. It had been averaging a 1.6 nationally before baseball started, then dropped to a 1.4 before dropping even further.

Of the returning shows, Buena Vista TV’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire may be benefiting from the Today show-inspired higher profile of its host, Meredith Vieira. For the second week in a row, it posted the biggest year-to-year growth of any of the syndicated game shows, improving 18% to a 3.3 from a 2.8 in the same week in 2005. It also rose 6% from 3.1 to 3.3 for the biggest week-to-week game show gain.

Overall, magazines were the only syndicated shows finishing up or holding their year-ago averages. None of the talk or court shows were up and games were mixed.

CBS Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight, at a first-place 5.2, scored its highest ratings since March, with ratings hitting a 5.6 Oct. 11 when the small plane of Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle crashed into a Manhattan skyscraper. It rose 2% for the week and 6% for the year.

Most talk and court shows have been trending down for most of the past year—a trend aggravated this fall by some weaker time periods and the loss of double and triple runs for court shows as the amount of new first-run product has increased.

NBC U’s Jerry Springer proved to be a key exception in this sample, with the show rising 14% from 1.4 to 1.6. That’s a new season high for the host, who may be getting some benefit out of all his sometimes painful missteps on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.