Syndication Ratings: 'Hot Bench' Climbs to Series-High 2.0

CBS Television Distribution’s rookie court show Hot Bench hit the 2.0 household ratings barrier in the week ending May 3, climbing 11% for the week to a new series high, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The Judge Judy Sheindlin-created court panel had the largest weekly increase of any daytime show in the top 15. Hot Bench also was syndication’s only strip to hit a new high and was easily court’s second-highest rated show after Judy, of course.

The week marked the first full week of the May sweep, which started April 23 and runs through May 20. Warmer weather and lower levels of people using television made it a difficult week for most shows.

CTD’s Judge Judy, which has been dominant court show every week for the past 19 years, was one of syndication’s few other gainers, climbing 1% to a 6.8. That was that show’s highest rating in seven weeks and made it the highest-rated strip in syndication. Judy elbowed aside CTD’s Wheel of Fortune, which dropped 7% to a 6.3 to tie CTD’s Jeopardy! for second place among all strips.

Among the rest of the courts, which was the only genre in which no show dropped, Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, Twentieth’s Divorce Court and Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis all held at a 1.7, 1.4 and 1.3, respectively. MGM’s sophomore Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court added 9% to a 1.2, while Trifecta’s freshman Judge Faith gained 14% to a 0.8.

CTD’s Dr. Phil remained at the top of the talkers for the 16th week in a row including ties, despite a 3% dip to a 3.3. Among women 25-54, Dr. Phil also led with a 1.6.

In second place, Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael, which has been first or second every week for this entire season, also was off 3% in households to a 2.9, although that was still up 7% from last year at this time. Among women 25-54, Live scored a second-place 1.5. In third place, Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres fell 8% for the week and 14% for the year to a 2.4.

NBCUniversal’s Maury and Steve Harvey rounded out the top five, holding steady at a 1.9 and 1.8, respectively. Among women 25-54, Maury finished ahead of Ellen taking third place with a 1.4. Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams came in fourth in the demo at a 1.3, while Ellen dropped to fifth at a 1.2.

In households, Wendy was unchanged at a sixth-place 1.7, but had the biggest annual increase, gaining 21%.

Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz dropped 7% for the week to a 1.4, but dropped 39% compared to the same week last year, the most of any talker.

NBCU’s Jerry Springer, which had the second strongest annual increase after Wendy, advancing 8%, was steady for the week at a 1.3, tying CTD’s Rachael Ray and NBCU’s Steve Wilkos, both of which were stable.

Warner Bros.’ The Real and NBCU’s Meredith Vieira also were both unchanged at a 1.1 and 1.0 in households, respectively. CTD’s The Doctors gave back 9% to a 1.0 tying Meredith.

In access, game shows weren’t having much fun. Both Wheel and Jeopardy! sank, with Wheel sliding 7% to a 6.3, tying Jeopardy!, which stumbled 6%.

Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud faded 5% to a 5.9, but was up 13% compared to last year at this time and was the only show in the category with an annual increase. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire matched its series-low 1.6, with a 6% drop for the week and a 27% drop for the year. Debmar Mercury’s rookie Celebrity Name Game sagged 7% for the week to a 1.3.

MGM’s video variety show RightThisMinute was steady at a 1.4.

Magazines, which had jumped in the previous frame on coverage of Bruce Jenner’s gender transition, fell back to earth.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight barely retained its lead, slipping 6% to a 3.2, and just edging out CTD’s Inside Edition, which was flat at a 3.1. Warner Bros.’ TMZ weakened 5% to a 1.9. NBCU’s Access Hollywood eased 6% to a 1.6. Warner Bros.’ Extra yielded 13% to a 1.3, tying CTD’s The Insider, which was flat. Twentieth’s Dish Nation and Trifecta's OK! TV both were flat at a 1.0 and a 0.2, respectively.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory remained the top off-net sitcom, dipping 2% to a 5.3. Twentieth’s Modern Family picked up 3% to a 3.5. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men fell 4% to a 2.7, equalling its series low. Twentieth’s Family Guy climbed 4% to a 2.4. Freshman Mike & Molly remained at a 2.2. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother sank to a new season low for the second straight week, slumping 5% to a 1.9, tying SPT’s Seinfeld, which was steady. Warner Bros.’ The Middle was unchanged at a 1.7. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show softened 12% to a new season-low 1.5, tying Twentieth’s King of the Hill, which was flat.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for The Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.). 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.