Syndication Ratings: 'Jeopardy!' Finally Wins Over 'Wheel'

For the first time in nearly 10 years, CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel of Fortune was not syndication's top-rated game show.

In the week ending June 1, the game genre's usual winner was dethroned by its stable mate, CTD’s Jeopardy!, as Julia Collins finally saw her 20-game winning streak snapped. Wheel slid 3% from the prior week to a 6.1 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen, and was surpassed by Jeopardy!’s 6.4, up 2% week to week. The last time Jeopardy! flattened Wheel was the week of Sept. 13, 2004, when Jeopardy! scored an 8.5 to Wheel’s 8.4.

To demonstrate how much things have changed in the game-show world since then, in the same September 2004 week Family Feud, which is now distributed by Debmar-Mercury, averaged a 1.8. In the current week, Feud with host Steve Harvey dipped 2% for the week to a 4.7, a 161% climb compared to 10 years ago in contrast to a decline of 27% for Wheel and 25% for Jeopardy! over the same 10-year period.

Meanwhile, back in the week of Sept. 13, 2004, Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire earned a 3.0. Currently, Millionaire, with departing host Cedric the Entertainer, was down 5% for the week and 37% from 10 years ago to a 1.9.

Elsewhere, most of syndication declined in the first week after the May sweep, traditionally a tough week for the majority of shows. Levels of people using television plummeted by about 4.6 million viewers from the prior week, while many shows began airing reruns.

Among magazines, coverage of Kim Kardashian’s Italian wedding to Kanye West on May 24 did not attract enough viewer interest to boost any show. CTD’s leader, Entertainment Tonight, dipped 3% from the prior session to a 3.1. CTD’s Inside Edition eroded 7% to a 2.7. Warner Bros.’ TMZ tumbled 5% to a 1.8. NBCU’s Access Hollywood was off 6% to a 1.5. Warner Bros.’ Extra eased 7% to a 1.3 and landed in a tie with CTD’s The Insider.

MGM’s RightThisMinute, Twentieth’s Dish Nation, and Trifecta’s departing America Now and newcomer OK! TV all were flat for the week at a 1.1, 1.0, 0.3 and 0.3, respectively.

In talk, CTD’s Dr. Phil was in repeats on four of the five days, but still finished first for the 40th time in the past 44 weeks with a 2.8, despite declining 15% from the previous week. The week featured Phil’s news-making interview with V. Stiviano, the ex-mistress of Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Year to year, Phil improved 8%.

Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael came in second, yielding 4% to a 2.7, but still climbing 4% from last year at this time. In addition, Live gained 7% to a 1.5 among women 25-54 and finished first in the key demo, tied with Warner Bros.’ Ellen. Ellen held at a 1.5 in the demo and was flat for the week and year at a third-place 2.5 in households with four original episodes during the week.

NBCU’s Maury held steady at a 2.0 and rose 5% from last year. Rounding out the top five, Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz dipped 6% to a 1.7, mostly in reruns for the week.

NBCU’s Steve Harvey lost 12% to 1.5 with three repeats during the week. Disney-ABC’s already-canceled Katie was flat at a 1.4. NBCU’s Steve Wilkos dropped 7% to a 1.3. CTD’s Rachael Ray retreated 8% to a 1.2, tying NBCU’s Jerry Springer, which was flat, and Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, which weakened 20% in repeats. CTD’s The Doctors declined 9% to a 1.0, while the soon-to-depart Trisha was flat at a 0.5 and Meredith’s The Better Show was unchanged at a 0.2.

Among the talk newcomers, SPT’s Queen Latifah, in reruns, dropped 15% to a 1.1. Warner Bros.’ Bethenny, which has been canceled, dropped 14% to a 0.6, tying CTD’s flat The Test, which also is departing. In late night, CTD’sArsenio Hall, which has ceased production, was unchanged at a 0.6.

In court, CTD’s Judge Judy averaged a 7.0, off 3% from the prior week but up 13% from last year at this time. Judy was the top show in syndication for the 38th time in the past 41 weeks. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was a distant second with an unchanged 1.9. CTD’s Divorce Court climbed 15% to a 1.5. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis sank 7% to a 1.4, tying Twentieth’s already canceled Judge Alex, which was flat. MGM’s rookie Paternity Court trailed with an unchanged 1.0.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory held the lead among the off-net sitcoms, despite falling 5% to a 5.7, that show’s lowest rating since last Christmas. Twentieth’s Modern Family fell 5% to a 4.0. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men moved 9% lower to a 3.2. Twentieth’s Family Guy gained 7% to a 2.9. SPT’s Seinfeld stayed at a 1.8, tying Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show, which was unchanged. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother remained at a 1.7. Warner Bros.’ Friends faded 6% to a 1.6, tying Warner Bros.’ The Middle, which also sagged 6%. Twentieth’s King of the Hill also was down 6%, dropping to a 1.5.

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.