Syndication Ratings: Court Is King in May Sweeps

was syndication's most consistent genre during the May sweeps that ran from
April 29 through May 26, with every court strip up or even compared to last

Television Distribution's Judge Judy
improved its already strong performance by 10%, jumping to a 4.5 live plus same
day household ratings average, according to Nielsen Media Research. Judy also averaged the most viewers of
any syndicated daytime show during May, notching an audience of more than
6.42 million, an improvement of 637,000 since last May. That total beats CTD's
top-ranked talker, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which
averaged 6.223 million viewers, down 600,000 from last May.

CTD's Judge Joe Brown, the second-ranked court
room, averaged a 2.1, holding steady with last May. Warner Bros.' People's Court climbed 11% to a 2.0.
Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis rose 13%
to a 1.7. Twentieth's Divorce Court
advanced 8% to a 1.4. Twentieth's Judge
was even with last year at a 1.4. Warner Bros.' Judge Jeanine Pirro, which aired on The CW network last year and
wasn't syndicated, tallied a 1.1.

turned in some strong performances -- particularly NBC Universal's trio of Maury, Jerry Springer and Steve
-- but other shows lost ground in May.

Oprah, which just completed its
penultimate season,beat Judy in household ratings, averaging a 4.7 rating, down 10% from last year.  CTD's Dr.
remained syndication's second highest rated talker, averaging a 2.8.
Nationally, that rating is off 7%, but Phil
was up 41% among households on WCBS New York, and marked an 85% increase
over its lead-in.

Live with Regis and Kelly slipped 4%
from last year to a 2.5. Warner Bros.' Ellen
added 14% to a 2.4. Maury
jumped 24% to a 2.1. CTD's The Doctors
dipped 6% to a 1.7. CTD's Rachael Ray
was down 12% to a 1.5. Jerry Springer
and Steve Wilkos each leaped 27% to a

Bros.' Bonnie Hunt, which is ending
its run after this season, fell 11% to a 0.8. NBCU's Martha Stewart, which also is departing syndication with Stewart
moving over to Hallmark Channel, tumbled 29% to a 0.5, the largest drop of any
talk show.

game shows, CTD's Wheel of Fortune dipped
2% from May 2009 to a 6.3. CTD's Jeopardy!
ticked up 2% to a 5.5. Disney-ABC's Who
Wants to be a Millionaire
fell 4% to a 2.2. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud, which is moving to Orlando
in the fall and adding Steve Harvey as host, grew 7% to a 1.5. NBCU's Deal or No Deal, which will go off the
air after this season, plunged 27% to a 1.1.

CTD's Entertainment Tonight breezed to its 79th
consecutive sweeps win in the magazine race, which dates back 20 years to July
1990. Although ET was down 5% from
last May to a 4.0 average, it still held a 38% ratings advantage over CTD's second
place Inside Edition, which lost 3%
to a 2.9. Warner Bros.' TMZ took
third but dropped 5% to a 2.0. NBCU's Access
, which is getting ready to spin off Access Hollywood Live this fall, also retreated 5% to a 1.9. CTD's The Insider was flat at a 1.7, although Insider Weekend jumped 18% to a 1.3. Warner
Bros.' Extra was up 6% to a 1.7. 

veteran off-net sitcoms all were down or flat. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men remained king at an
unchanged 4.6. Twentieth's Family Guy
sank 14% to a 3.2. CTD's Everybody Loves
was flat at a 2.9. Sony's Seinfeld,
now in its 15th year of syndication, slid 18% to a 2.7, tying Warner
Bros.' George Lopez, which was
unchanged. Twentieth's King of the Hill
dropped 8% to a 2.4. Warner Bros.' Friends
faltered 5% to a 2.1. Debmar-Mercury's House
of Payne
fell 19% to a 1.7. Sony's King
of Queens
plummeted 35% to a 1.5, and CTD's Frasier faded 17% to a 1.5.

NBCU's The Office led the rookie off-net
sitcoms with a 2.8 average, beating all syndicated shows except Twentieth's Family Guy among women 18-34. Among
other off-net newcomers, CTD's Everybody
Hates Chris
registered a 1.8 and while Twentieth's My Name is Earl earned a 1.6.

first-run freshmen, Sony's Dr. Oz logged
a 2.4, followed by Twentieth's Are You Smarter
Than a Fifth Grader
  at a 1.3, tying
Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams.
Litton's Street Court, expected to
end its run, was far back at a 0.5.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.