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Syndication Ratings: Court Shows Hold Up vs. Cable

Court shows stood out in the week ending Aug. 31 -- a tough week for syndies as the cable networks focused their attention on the Democratic National Convention and the pending arrival of Hurricane Gustav and most people prepared to get out of town for the long Labor Day weekend.

The top four courtrooms were all up for the week, while none of the genre’s 11 shows declined.

CBS’ Judge Judy continued to dominate with a 4.4 live-plus-same-day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, up 2% from the prior week. Judy also was the top-rated daytime show in syndication for the 12th week in a row. In second place, CBS’ Judge Joe Brown was up 4% to a 2.4. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court gained 5% to a 2.2 and Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis jumped 12% to a 1.9.

Every other court show held steady with the prior week except for Twentieth Television’s Cristina’s Court, which was up 9% to a 1.2.

Elsewhere in daytime, CBS’ top talker, Oprah, fell 5% to a 3.9. CBS’ Dr. Phil, in second place, climbed 3% to a 3.3 after a show on know-it-all sisters surged 16% to a 3.7 Aug. 25. In third place, Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly, which opened its 25th season Aug. 25, averaged a 2.2, up 10% from the previous week, when the show was in repeats and had fallen to a 17-year low. NBC Universal’s Maury was unchanged at a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ Ellen held steady at a 1.5, and it was the only talk show to improve over last year, growing 7%.

CBS’ Rachel Ray dipped 7% to a 1.4. CBS’ Montel Williams was up 22% to a 1.1, tying NBCU’s Jerry Springer, which was flat. Twentieth’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet spiked 11% to a 1.0, tying Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks, which was unchanged. NBCU’s Martha Stewart averaged a 0.8 after Nielsen broke out the show in the prior week for coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. That landed Martha in a tie with NBCU’s Steve Wilkos, which dropped 11%.

Among game shows, both CBS’ Wheel of Fortune and CBS’ Jeopardy! sank to new season lows, with Wheel dropping 3% to a 5.9 and Jeopardy! losing 4% to a 4.9. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was up 4% to a 2.5. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud gained 6% both for the week and the year to a 1.7. Program Partners’ Merv Griffin’s Crosswords averaged a 0.8 after also being broken out in the previous week for Olympics coverage, while Twentieth’s Temptation, which is soon ending its run, was up 25% to a 0.5.

On the magazine rack, CBS’ Entertainment Tonight remained on top with a 3.3, down 8%. CBS’ Inside Edition lost 4% to a 2.5. Warner Bros.’ TMZ recovered 11% to a 2.0. NBCU’s Access Hollywood fell 11% to a 1.7, tying CBS’ The Insider, which was off 6%. Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ Extra, after suffering massive Olympics pre-emptions in the previous two weeks, rebounded 23% to a 1.6.

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.