Winners of the 2015 May sweep were CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael and Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, while Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz and Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire endured severe year-to-year drops.
In the last major ratings sweep of the 2014-15 season, which ran from April 23 - May 20, most syndicated shows were down from last year, but a few shows managed to stand out.
Dr. Phil led the talkers for the 11th straight major sweep with a 3.3 household ratings average, according to Nielsen Media Research, dipping 3% compared to last year’s May sweep. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Dr. Phil also led with a 1.6.
In second place, Live was one of only three talkers that grew compared to last year, adding 4% to a 2.9, the show’s strongest May sweep in eight years.
In third place, Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres declined 7% May to May to a 2.5. NBCUniversal’s Maury dropped 5% to a 1.9. NBCU’s Steve Harvey was steady at a 1.8, rounding out the top five.
Among women 25-54, however, Maury grew 8% to a 1.4, tying Live as the number-two talker in the key demo behind only Dr. Phil. Ellen eroded 13% in the demo to land at a fourth-place 1.3.
Wendy Williams clocked a 1.7 in households, up 21% from last year, by far talk’s largest gain. Wendy also advanced 20% among women 25-54 to a 1.2.
At the other end of the scale, Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz had the worst loss of any talk show, sagging 35% in households to a 1.3 and deteriorating 42% among women 25-54 to a 0.7.
NBCU’s Steve Wilkos was steady at a 1.4, finishing ahead of Dr. Oz for the first time in a sweep. NBCU’s Jerry Springer in its 24th season was the third of three talkers to grow in May, climbing 8% to a 1.3 to tie Dr. Oz. Springer also grew the most among women 25-54, shooting up 29% to a 0.9.
CTD’s Rachael Ray finished out the three-way tie, remaining at a 1.3. Warner Bros.’ The Real registered a 1.1 in its first sweep. The show is seeking a new executive producer to replace creator and showrunner Sallyann Salsano, who is moving into a consultant role on the show.
Another newcomer, NBCU’s Meredith Vieira, was one tenth of a point behind The Real at a 1.0, tying CTD’s The Doctors, which slipped 9%.
CTD’s Judge Judy led all of syndication and all of the court shows with a 6.7 household average in the sweep, even though the show lost 8% compared to last May. This is the fifth time in seven major sweeps that Judy has been syndication’s top-rated show.
CTD’s Hot Bench, created by Judge Judy Sheindlin, finished second in the court genre in its first May sweep, scoring a 2.0, up 54% from its September debut. The show was upgraded to CBS affiliates in top markets after SPT’s Queen Latifah departed at the end of March.
In third place, Warner Bros.’ People’s Court sank 11% to a 1.7. Twentieth’s Divorce Court settled for a 7% increase to a 1.5. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis weakened 7% to a 1.3. MGM’s sophomore Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court picked up 9% to a 1.2. Trifecta’s rookie Judge Faith posted a 0.8, up 14% from its September debut week.
Moving to access, CTD’s Entertainment Tonight gave back 3% to a 3.2, but won the magazine race for the 98th consecutive major sweep — more than 24 years — in an unusually close contest. Sister show Inside Edition was second by a nose, with a 3% uptick to a 3.1.
Warner Bros.’ TMZ and NBCU’s Access Hollywood both were steady at a 1.9 and 1.6, respectively. Warner Bros.’ Extra relinquished 7% to a 1.4. CTD’s The Insider stayed at a 1.3. Twentieth’s Dish Nation rose 10% to a 1.1, while Trifecta’s OK! TV shrank 33% from a 0.3 to a 0.2.
The game-show competition also ended in a photo finish with CTD’s Wheel of Fortune just edging out CTD’s Jeopardy! by a tenth of a point. Wheel slowed 3% to a 6.5, while Jeopardy! dipped 2% to a 6.4. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud, meanwhile, spiked 18%, the only annual increase in the genre, to a 6.0.
Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire dropped 24%, game’s biggest decline, to a 1.6. Debmar-Mercury’s newbie Celebrity Name Game tallied a 1.3 in its first May outing, up 18% from its September debut.
Meanwhile MGM’s video variety show RightThisMinute was up 27% to a 1.4 with wider coverage.
The longer days of May mean people watch less access TV, and the off-net sitcoms felt that drop off. Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory fizzled 12% in its fourth season to a 5.3. Twentieth’s Modern Family faded 15% in year two to a 3.5. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men also slumped 15% in season eight to a 2.8. Twentieth’s Family Guy, also in its eighth year, slumped 7% to a 2.5.
Warner Bros.’ rookie Mike & Molly clocked a 2.2. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother mushroomed 18% in its fifth season to a 2.0, tying SPT’s Seinfeld, which strengthened 11% to a 2.0 in its 20th year. Warner Bros.’ The Middle moved up 6% to a 1.7 in its second season, while Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show, also in year two, dropped 11% to a 1.6. Twentieth’s King of the Hill was flat at a 1.5 in its 14th stanza.
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.
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