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Syndication Ratings: Judge Judy Alone at the Top

CBS’ court leader Judge Judy, a veteran that’s been on the air for 12 years, was the only first-run show in all of syndication to see growth in three measures: season-to-date, compared with this week last year and compared with last week.

The show, starring Judge Judy Sheindlin, was up 7% from last year to a 4.7 season-to-date average, according to Nielsen Media Research’s national household live-plus-same-day rating. And in the week ending Oct. 28, the show was up 9% to a season-high 5.0 compared with last year at this time. Judge Judy also improved 2% week-to-week.

Other shows in first-run syndication that had similar bragging rights included Warner Bros.’ Ellen, which was flat at a 1.9 season-to-date average but up 11% to a 2.1 compared with this week last year. Week-to-week, Ellen was also flat. On Monday, DeGeneres -- a member of both the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild -- was the only syndicated talk-show host to refuse to cross the picket line and go to work, even though her status doesn’t preclude her from working during the strike. She went back to work Tuesday.

Other gainers were Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud, which was up 6% to a 1.8 this week compared with last year and up 8% for the week. Season-to-date, the show was unchanged. And CBS’ The Insider jumped 4% from this time last year to a 2.6%, the show’s best rating in six months. That also marked a week-to-week gain of 8% for the show.

There were several other season highs among the rest of syndication -- a particularly notable feat considering that many shows were pre-empted in Southern California due to coverage of the wildfires that swept the region.

The top four magazines all maintained or improved their season highs with coverage of two stories: Marie Osmond fainting during ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and the first face-to-face courtroom confrontation between Britney Spears and ex-husband Kevin Federline.

The magazine leader, CBS’ Entertainment Tonight, remained at a season-high 4.8. CBS’ Inside Edition was up 3% to a 3.5, its best number in 25 weeks. NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood, in fourth place, was up 4% to a 2.4, its best rating in 18 weeks. Warner Bros.’ Extra was down 5% to a 1.8; however, Warner Bros.’ rookie, TMZ, recovered after hitting a season low the prior week, gaining 13% on the week to a 1.8, tying corporate sibling Extra.

While Judy hit new season highs, Twentieth’s Divorce Court saw the most weekly growth among the court shows, gaining 11% to a new season high 2.1, good for fifth place. In second place, CBS’ Judge Joe Brown jumped 7% to a new season high 2.9. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court and Judge Mathis each were unchanged at a 2.5 and 2.2, respectively.

The top five talk shows all were even with the prior week: CBS’ The Oprah Winfrey Show led the pack at a 5.7, CBS’ Dr. Phil stayed in second at a 4.5, Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kellymaintained its 3.1, Ellen stuck at a 2.1, and CBS’ Rachael Ray held a 2.0, even with last year.

Among the remaining first-run rookies, NBCU’s Steve Wilkos had its best week yet, gaining 11% from the prior week and 25% from the prior two weeks to a 1.0. Wilkos also was the only rookie to outperform its year-ago time period average during October, up 11% to a 1.0 rating/4 share in the metered markets.

Twentieth’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet was right on Wilkos’ heels at a 0.9, holding steady with the prior week. Sony’s Judge David Young was even at a 0.9. Program Partners’ Merv Griffin’s Crosswords dropped 11% to a 0.8, while the other new game, Twentieth’s Temptation, held steady at a 0.5. Radar Entertainment’s Jury Duty brought up the rear at a 0.2.

Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men took over the lead in the ongoing battle to lead the off-net sitcoms. The Charlie Sheen-led Men jumped 8% to a new high of 4.1, pushing CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond back to second at a 4.0. While Raymond’s ratings were good enough to keep it at the top of the sitcom pack, the show fell 5% for the week, 25% compared with this week last year and 22% compared with last year’s season-to-date average.

Twentieth’s Family Guy, another rookie, tied Raymond, climbing 3% for the week to a 4.0. In fourth place, CBS’ Seinfeld shot up 9% for the week to a season-high 3.7, although like Raymond, Seinfeld is down 14% compared to this week last year and 19% compared to last year’s season-to-date average.

Dropping to fifth place, Warner Bros.’ Friends was up 4% for the week to a 2.9, tying Sony’s King of Queens, which was unchanged. Warner Bros.’ rookie George Lopez came in sixth, flat at a 2.6. In seventh, Warner Bros.’ Sex and the City saw significant improvement, leaping 22% compared to the same week last year and 24% compared to last year’s season-to-date average.

NBCU’s rookie one-hour off-net strip, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, was flat at a 1.5.

Finally, game shows were mostly on the rise. CBS’ Wheel of Fortune gained 1% to a season-high 7.8. CBS’ Jeopardy! jumped 3% to a season-high 6.4. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire dipped 3% to a 2.9, and Family Feud was up 6% to a 1.8.