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Syndication Ratings: Holzhauer-Powered 'Jeopardy!' Falls Short of 'Judge Judy' in May Sweep

It turns out that James Holzhauer not only lost to Emma Boettcher, he also lost to CBS Television Distribution's Judge Judy since the skyrocketing numbers for CTD's Jeopardy! were not enough to topple syndication’s highest rated show in the important May sweep (April 25-May 22). The results of which were released Wednesday.

Although most strips were down from last May, the declines were relatively minor compared to the steep drops for the networks, which, for example, reportedly saw average losses of 27% among adults 18-49 over the past two years due mainly to heated competition for viewers from streaming video services.

Judge Judy, the season-to-date household ratings leader, which has been the top ranked show in every May sweep since 2010, lit up the Nielsen chart with a steady, compared to last May, 7.1 live plus same day national sweep average for the survey period. Still going strong in this its 23rd season, the 7.1 matches Judy's second-highest May rating in the past five years.

Related: Greg Meidel Joins Judge Judy Sheindlin's Queen Bee Productions

None of the other court shows improved. The next highest gaveler was CTD's Hot Bench, which held its ground year-to-year at a 2.3 average and was the No. 3 in daytime for the rating period behind only Judy and CTD's Dr. Phil. After that, Warner Bros.' People’s Court slid 7% to a 1.4 average. Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis remained at a 1.0, and Twentieth's Divorce Court sank 22% to a 0.7. 

In access, Jeopardy!, which was ignited by James Holzhauer appearances in half the sweep, raced ahead 19% to a 7.0, taking the runner-up spot to Judge Judy overall, and easily leading the game shows. By the May 22nd end of the survey period, the show’s ratings had ballooned at times to levels not seen in more than a decade as the Jeopardy! phenom won 25 straight games and nearly $2 million.

Related: 'Jeopardy!' Host Alex Trebek 'Near Remission' in Cancer Fight

Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud and CTD's Wheel of Fortune were neck and neck at a 5.9 average with Feud fading 5% and Wheel, which is paired with Jeopardy! in many markets, inching up 2%. Further back, Disney's the canceled Who Wants to Be a Millionaire broke even at a 1.6. While Entertainment Studios' Funny You Should Ask rose 25% from a 0.4 last May to a 0.5. 

Disney's viral video show RightThisMinute moved down 14% to a 1.2. 

Dr. Phil was the top talker in May for the eighth year in a row by a wide margin despite backing off 13% to a 2.8. This marks the 23rd consecutive sweep victory for Phil, which has led the category for an Oprah-like 142 weeks in a row with five ties. Among women 25-54, Phil was also first with a 1.2 sweep average in the key demo. 

Returning to the ratings, Disney's Live With Kelly and Ryan, which had been tied with Warner Bros.' Ellen DeGeneres last May, jumped 5% and landed in sole possession of second place with a 2.2. Ellen declined 5% to a 2.0. Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams, which had been tied for fifth place last May, leapfrogged over Maury with a 17% spike to a 1.4 in fourth position. NBCUniversal's Maury was minus 7% to a 1.3.

Related: 'Ellen DeGeneres' Renewed Through 2021-22 Season

Rounding out the top six was NBCU's Steve, starring Steve Harvey, with a steady 1.2. Going out on a high note, the popular talker heated up in markets like Los Angeles where it ranked second to General Hospital in its 2 p.m. time period and grew 13% from last May.

The bottom half of the chat pack saw NBCU's conflict talker Steve Wilkos perk up 10% to a 1.1. CTD's Rachael Ray retreated 9% to a 1.0, tying Sony Pictures Television's Dr. Oz, which also dropped 9% to a 1.0. Warner Bros.' The Real stayed at a 0.7. CTD's The Doctors fell 14% to 0.6. Disney's Pickler & Ben banked a 33% increase from a 0.3. to a 0.4, tying NBCU's the out-of-production Jerry Springer, which sagged 64% to a 0.4.

The rookie crop saw CTD's Face the Truth confronting a 13% decline from its September debut to a 0.7 while Debmar-Mercury's Caught in Providence was even with its opening week, capturing a 0.5.

Magazines were mostly lower than last May when ratings were boosted by big viewer interest in the royal wedding. Also dragging shows lower was competition with the stratospheric ratings for James Holzhauer on Jeopardy!. CTD's Entertainment Tonight and CTD's Inside Edition tied for the lead at a 2.8 average with both shows slipping 7% from last year. 

NBCU's Access was one of only two shows in the top seven to avoid any losses despite directly competing with Jeopardy! in five of the top 20 markets. Access held steady at a 1.2, tying Warner Bros.' TMZ, which softened 8% to a 1.2. Warner Bros.' Extra ran head-to-head with Jeopardy! in six of the top nine markets and gave back 9% to a 1.0 although it rang up higher ratings in numerous other metered cities such as Providence, Rhode Island, where it climbed 13% to a 4.4 rating, 7 share on WJAR at 7:30 p.m.

Related: Billy Bush to Host Rebranded 'Extra Extra'

CTD's sophomore DailyMailTV held its ground at a 1.0, tying Extra, and was renewed for year three. Twentieth's canceled Page Six TV revealed a 14% slide to a 0.6 while Trifecta's Celebrity Page was flat at a 0.2. 

NBCU's Dateline was the sweep’s true crime champ, gaining 8% to a 1.3. SPT’s off-A&E Live PD Police Patrol posted a 1.0 in its initial May tour, which was on par with its September opener. While Discovery's True Crime Files disclosed a 0.3 in its first May case, which was even with its September premiere.

NBCU's scripted police procedural Chicago PD earned a 1.0 in its first May, shooting up 25% from its September debut. 

Among sitcoms, Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory weakened 2% to a 4.3 average in its eighth season but easily led the group. Twentieth's Last Man Standing slumped 5% to a 2.0 in year three. Twentieth's Modern Family faded 19% in year six to a 1.7. SPT's The Goldbergs, in its second go-around, was off 7% to a 1.4, tying Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men, which also softened 7% to a 1.4 in season 12. Twentieth's Family Guy deteriorated 20% to a 1.2 in its 12th outing. Warner Bros.' Mike & Molly moved down 15% to a 1.1 in year five, tying the first May book for Disney's black-ish, which bounded ahead 10% from its September premiere to a 1.1. Warner Bros.' 2 Broke Girls receded 9% to a 1.0 in season four, tying SPT's Seinfeld, which was unchanged at a 1.0 in the year of its 24th Festivus.

Jessika is content engagement director of Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV. She has been with the brands in various roles since 2013. In her current role, she works primarily behind the screen, keeping an eye on the website and fixing any site bugs. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects for NextTV, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.