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Syndicated Ratings: Mags Soar With Anna Nicole Smith Coverage

Coverage of the death of former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith in the week ending Feb. 11 sent ratings for syndicated magazine shows through the roof.

Entertainment Tonight recorded its best numbers in over three years and the biggest week-to-week increase of any of the mags, up 12% from the week before to a 6.4 rating, according to Nielsen. It was ET's highest ratings since the week after Janet Jackson's Super Bowl half-time, half-dressed appearance.

On Feb. 8, the day Smith was found dead in her hotel room--eerily evoking the death of another blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe--ET's ratings spiked at a 7.6, up 33% and its highest-rated single telecast since the day after the 2004 Academy Awards.

Other magazines followed suit. Inside Edition was up 11% to a new season high of a 4.1; The Insider was up 7% to a 3.1, which was also a season high and tied the show's all-time high; and Extra! was up 4%, also to a new season high of 2.5.

Access Hollywood was even with the week befor at a 3.1, but up 19% year-to-year, the biggest such increase of any first-run syndicated strip, according to NBC Universal, which distributes the show.
All five magazine shows were also up compared to last year at this time. No other genre in syndication could claim more than two shows with year-to-year gains.

Elsewhere, Live with Regis & Kelly was the sole talker to score a new high, up 5% to a 3.9. It was also the only talker up over last year, also by 5% and helped by its annual "wedding week," in which a couple gets hitched on-air. The telenuptials Feb. 9 were witnessed by nearly 5 million viewers.

Dr. Phil had the largest weekly increase, up 8% to a 5.7, its second-highest rated week of the season. Leader Oprah was up 4% to a 7.3, and Maury improved 4% to a 2.6. Freshman Rachael Ray pulled its largest audience to date, averaging a little more than 3 million viewers on a 2.4 rating, unchanged from last week's season high.

Among the freshest of the freshmen, The Morning Show With Mike & Juliet continued its streak of increasing its ratings every week since its debut four weeks ago. Last week, the show averaged a 1.6 rating/5 share in 27 metered markets, up 23% over its premiere week, with gains over its premiere ratings of 67% in New York, 78% in Philadelphia and 120% in Washington, D.C.

IVillage Live averaged a 0.7 rating/2 share, up 17% from the prior week in its 11th week on the air (it is in 12 metered markets).

Only one game was up for the week, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, up 3% to a 3.7 and up 9% over last year.

Among court shows, Divorce Court had the biggest gain, up 10% to a 2.2 rating. Others moving higher were Judge Mathis, up 4% to a new season-high 2.8, and Judge Alex, up 5% to a 2.1.

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.