Syndication Ratings: Election Coverage Cuts Ratings Gains

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki monitors the big board as votes come in.
MSNBC's Steve Kornacki monitors the big board as votes come in. (Image credit: MSNBC/Virginia Sherwood)

A constant stream of election coverage in the week ending Nov. 8 created a landslide of preemptions, dragging down most of syndication.

In addition, shows that weren’t preempted had to compete with that coverage, with cable news networks skyrocketed as much as 178% from the prior week. 

The declines would have been even more severe but losses were mitigated by ratings breakouts for some shows on some days. Breakouts permit high-preemption, low-rated days to be excluded from a program’s weekly ratings average if the coverage loss exceeds 10% of a show’s total.

Access magazines also were kicked out of their time slots in some instances for football games on NBC and Fox owned stations and affiliates.

CBS Television Distribution’s Inside Edition led but deteriorated 8% to a 2.2 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Close behind, CTD’s Entertainment Tonight dipped 5% to a 2.1. NBCUniversal’s Access Hollywood eased 10% to a 0.9 after losing its primary run ten times in the top six markets. Warner Bros.’ TMZ and Extra were the only two shows in the top six to avoid losses, holding their ground at a 0.8 and 0.7, respectively. Of note, even though Extra was bumped 21 times in the top 20 markets, it remained at its season high. 

CTD’s DailyMailTV slipped 14% to a 0.6. Fox’s Dish Nation remained at a 0.3, while Trifecta’s Celebrity Page declined 33% to a 0.2 from a 0.3.

The top-three game shows all played to diminished crowds. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud faded 9% to a 5.3. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune slowed 6% to a 5.0, while CTD’s Jeopardy!, which just lost host Alex Trebek to pancreatic cancer on Nov. 8, jettisoned 9% to a 4.9.

Related: Remembering ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek

Fox’s 25 Words or Less and Entertainment Studios’ Funny You Should Ask both stayed at season lows of 0.8 and 0.4, respectively.

Disney’s internet video show RightThisMinute lost 14% to a 0.6, matching its series low.

Disney’s Live with Kelly and Ryan receded 5% to a 1.8 after being widely preempted but still led the talkers. Live has now been first or tied for first in the six of the past nine weeks. Dr. Phil lost its primary run 12 times in the top ten markets alone and yielded 11% to a new season-low 1.7.

Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Live led with a 0.9.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres was one of two talkers, along with CTD’s Rachael Ray, that saw ratings breakouts due to preemptions, and the show remained at a 1.2 for third place. NBCU’s sophomore Kelly Clarkson had its primary run preempted at least 16 times in the top-ten markets and backtracked 10% from its season high to a 0.9, tying NBCU’s Maury and Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, both of which were unchanged, as well as NBCU’s Steve Wilkos, which recovered 13% from a series low in the prior week.

Even with the benefit of breakouts, Rachael Ray eroded 11% to equal its season-low 0.8.

Disney’s sophomore Tamron Hall relinquished 22% to a 0.7 after being preempted at least 21 times in the top markets. 

Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz fell 14% to a 0.6 to tie its series low, while Warner Bros.’ The Real, CTD’s The Doctors and NBCU’s out-of-production syndicated run of Jerry Springer all were on par with the prior week’s 0.4, 0.3 and 0.2, respectively, with Doctors and Springer remaining at series lows.

CTD’s rookie talker Drew Barrymore gave back 17% to a 0.5 after losing its primary run at least 13 times in the top 28 markets, including twice in top market New York. 

CTD’s Judge Judy was preempted 25 times in the top-ten markets and ebbed 8% from a season high set in the prior week to a 5.4, but that was still good enough to lead syndication and the courts in households. 

CTD’s Hot Bench backed off 6% to a 1.6. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court slumped 8% to a 1.1, while its Judge Mathis skidded 11% to a 0.8. NBCU’s sophomore Judge Jerry, starring Jerry Springer, was flat at a 0.7. Fox’s Divorce Court settled for a 14% decline to a 0.6, while Trifecta’s Protection Court was unchanged at a 0.3. 

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory fizzled 4% to a 2.5. Disney’s Last Man Standing stood pat at a 1.8, while Disney’s Modern Family faltered 8% to a 1.1. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men weakened 9% to a 1.0, tying STP’s The Goldbergs, which held steady. Disney’s Family Guy stayed at a 0.9. SPT’s Seinfeld shrank 11% to a 0.8. Disney’s black-ish and Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly and Mom all were stable at a 0.7. 

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.