Syndication Ratings: 'Judge Judy' Sprints Ahead Early in February Sweeps

Judge Judy, starring Judge Judy Sheindlin, came out swinging in the first full week of the February sweeps, becoming the only syndicated show to climb higher than an 8.0 in the 2015-16 TV season thus far. 

CBS Television Distribution’s veteran court topped all of syndication in the week ended Feb. 14 with a 8.1 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, a new two-year high for the show. Judy was up 4% for the week and 11% compared to last year at this time, and topped all of syndication for the 33rd time in the past 34 weeks.

In second place among the courts, CTD’s Hot Bench, created by Sheindlin, had its biggest week ever, jumping 8% for the week to a new all-time high 2.7. That’s up 50% compared to last year at this time, before it was moved to CBS Owned Stations in top markets, the biggest annual gain of any show in syndication.

The rest of the court pack was relatively quiet. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court and Judge Mathis both were flat at a 1.9 and 1.5, respectively. Twentieth’s Divorce Court, which was just renewed for three more seasons, was flat for the week at a 1.3 and down 19% from last year at this time. Trifecta’s Judge Faith was flat at a 0.9 for the seventh consecutive week.

Elsewhere in daytime, talk shows climbed as they headed into originals. CTD’s Dr. Phil scored a new season high, surging 6% to a 3.5, making it the top talker for the sixth week in a row. Phil also grew 6% to a 1.7 among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, and again finished first in talk. 

Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael advanced 3% for the week to land in second at a 3.2. Live improved 7% among women 25-54 to a 1.6 to also rank second in the demo.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres added 4% in households to a third-place 2.8. Among women 25-54, Ellen also came in third at a flat 1.5.

NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey boasted talk’s biggest weekly increase with an 11% spike to a 2.0. In addition, Harvey was 11% higher in the key demo at a 1.0. NBCU’s Maury rounded out the top five with a 6% gain to a 1.8, and a 9% bump in the demo to a 1.2, beating Harvey for fourth place.

Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams and CTD’s Rachael Ray remained at a 1.7 and 1.6, respectively. Rachael improved the most of any talk show for the year, growing 14%.

NBCU’s Steve Wilkos climbed 7% to a 1.5, matching its season high and tying Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz, which also picked up 7%.

NBCU’s Jerry Springer and CTD’s The Doctors both were steady at a 1.3 and 1.1, respectively. Warner Bros.’ The Real recovered 10% to a 1.1, tying The Doctors, while NBCU’s Meredith Vieira was unchanged at a 0.9.

Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily led the rookies at a steady 1.0. That was followed by Disney-ABC’s FABLife and NBCU’s Crazy Talk at a 0.8 and 0.5, respectively. Crime Watch also led among women 25-54 with a first-place 0.6, followed by FABLife and Crazy Talk both at a 0.4 with FABLife steady and Crazy Talk up 33%.

The magazines all were steady to higher, with the exception of Warner Bros.’ TMZ, the subject of a recent New Yorker magazine expose, which fell 5% to a 1.8, and Twentieth’s Dish Nation, which dropped 10% to a 0.9.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight led the category at a 3.6, up 6% from the prior week to its second-best rating of the season. CTD’s Inside Edition inched up 3% to a 3.2. NBCU’s Access Hollywood heated up 6% to its second-highest rating of the season, a 1.8, tying TMZ. Warner Bros.’ Extra and CTD’s The Insider stood pat at a 1.5 and 1.3, respectively, while Trifecta’s OK! TV was unchanged at a 0.3 for the seventh straight session.

CTD’s Wheel of Fortune led the games at a neutral 7.4 for the third week in a row. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud finished 6% higher for the week at a 7.3, just nipping at Wheel of Fortune with its second-highest rating of the season. CTD’s Jeopardy!, in third place, regained most of its prior week’s loss, upticking 3% to a 6.9. 

Further back, Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game rebounded 7% to a 1.5, tying Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which also improved 7%. Year to year, Feud and Name Game were the only games to improve, climbing 12% and 7%, respectively. Family Feud also hit a new high among women 25-54, climbing 11% for the week to a 4.1 to lead all of syndication in the key demo for the first time.

MGM’s viral video show RightThisMinute clocked an 8% gain to a new season-high 1.3, after being stalled at a 1.2 for six weeks. Compared to last year, the show fell back 13%.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory led the off-net sitcoms but dipped 2% to a 6.3. Twentieth’s Modern Family faded 6% to a 3.3. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men moved up 4% to a 2.9. Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls, Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly, Twentieth’s Family Guy and SPT’s Seinfeld all were unchanged at a 2.3, 2.2, 2.2 and 1.9, respectively. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother sank 19% to a 1.7. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show slipped 6% to a 1.6, while Twentieth’s King of the Hill was flat at a 1.3.

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.