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Syndication Ratings: Britney's Travails Are Mags' Triumphs

In an otherwise sleepy New Year’s week, the tribulations of pop princess Britney Spears drove all of the syndicated entertainment magazines up by double-digits.

In the week ending Jan. 6, CBS’ Entertainment Tonight had the largest increase of any strip in first run, gaining 26% from the prior week to a 4.4 live-plus-same-day national household average, according to Nielsen Media Research. That includes a 34% ratings jump Friday, Jan. 4, the day news broke that Spears had been hospitalized after a frightening custody stand-off. Fridays are usually the week’s lowest-rated day.

And unlike most shows, ET counted New Year’s Day in its average, although most syndicated shows left that football-heavy day out of their weekly averages.

The constant chronicling of Spears’ problems also drove the other magazines up. CBS’ Inside Edition jumped 15% to a 3.1 four-day average. NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood, dropping both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, gained 14% to a 2.5. CBS’ The Insider and Warner Bros.’ Extra both counted all five days, with Insider increasing 11% to a 2.1 and Extra leaping 20% to a 1.8.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ new access show, TMZ, the top overall rookie, dropped 6% to a 1.7 four-day average.

Almost all other strips used a four-day average for the week.

Only six first-run strips showed year-to-year improvements: CBS’ Judge Judy, the top court show, gained 11%; CBS’ Judge Joe, in second place among the courts, jumped 7%; Twentieth Television’s Cristina’s Court increased 8%; Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly improved 7%; Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres gained 5%; and Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud was up 11%.

For the week, Judge Judy averaged a 5.0, up 2%. Besides gaining on the year, Judge Joe Brown hit a new season-high 3.0, up 7%. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court also marked a new season high of 2.6, up 4%. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis was unchanged at a 2.3. Twentieth’s Divorce Court jumped 5% to a 2.0. Twentieth’s Judge Alex gained 6% to a 1.9. Sony’s Judge Hatchett and Cristina’s Court each were unchanged for the week at a 1.4. Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez dropped 10% to a 0.9.

Among the new courts, Sony’s rookie, Judge David Young, hit a series high 1.1, up 10%, while Radar Entertainment’s Jury Duty was unchanged at a 0.3.

Twentieth’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet led the daytime rookies and scored the most growth among all talkers, jumping 20% from the prior week and 50% over the past two months to a new series high 1.2. NBCU’s Steve Wilkos, which is renewed for year two, held steady at a 0.9.

Among the veteran talkers, three were up for the week: CBS’ Montel Williams hit a season-high 1.7, up 13%; Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks jumped 9% to tie its season-high 1.2; and NBCU’s Martha Stewart increased 10% to a 1.1.

Otherwise, the other shows were down or flat. CBS’ top talker, The Oprah Winfrey Show, was unchanged at a 4.7. Oprah -- whose host, Oprah Winfrey, will turn Discovery Health into OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network in 2009 -- also plunged 20% year-to-year, marking the biggest decline of any talker.

In second place, CBS’ Dr. Phil held steady at a 4.0. Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly was flat at a 3.1. CBS’ Rachael Ray remained at its season high 2.1. Maury was down 5% to a 2.1 and Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres was even for the week at a 2.0.

Game shows were higher on the week. CBS’ Wheel of Fortune gained 10% to a 7.5. CBS’ Jeopardy! jumped 14% to a 6.4. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire gained 7% to tie its season-high 3.2. And Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud, having a great week, increased 17% hit a new season high 2.1.

Among the game-show rookies, Program Partners’ Crosswords hit a new series-high 1.0, up 11%. Twentieth’s Temptation improved 20% to a 0.6.

The off-net sitcoms were mostly lower. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men dropped 2% to a 4.3 but stayed atop the pack. Twentieth’s Family Guy fell 3% to a 3.9. CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond was down 8% to a 3.7. Sony’s Seinfeld tumbled 15% to a 3.3, while Sony’s King of Queens moved up 3% to a 3.1.