Syndication Ratings: 'Judge Judy' Wins Gold for February Sweeps

CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy was the February sweeps gold medalist, amid ratings disruptions caused by the 2018 Winter Olympics from PyeongChang, South Korea, as shows faced massive preemptions, retitling and strong competition.

Judy finished its ninth of the past 10 major sweeps as the syndication leader with a 7.8 live plus same day national household average rating, the show’s third-highest February sweeps performance in the past 10 years and an improvement of 7% from February 2017.

CTD’s Hot Bench, which was created by Judge Judy star Judy Sheindlin, averaged a 2.5 in February, down 4% compared to last year, although it ranked as the fourth-highest strip in daytime behind only Judge Judy, CTD’s Dr. Phil and Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres.

Bench was especially hot in top market New York, where it competes head to head at 9 a.m. against WNBC’s Megyn Kelly Todayand WABC’s Live With Kelly and Ryan on WABC, the Judy Sheindlin created court room strip won its 10 am time period on WCBS New York six times in the 20 days of the survey.

The rest of court was down or steady. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was unchanged at a 1.7. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis fell 14% to a 1.2. Twentieth’s Divorce Court declined 9% to a 1.0. Trifecta’s Judge Faith faded 13% to a 0.7.

Turning to talk, Dr. Phil led the February sweep for the seventh straight year — ever since Oprah ended in May 2011 — with a 3.7. That was off 5% from last year at this time but the show’s second-best February in the past decade, with 2017’s performance the highest since 2008. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Phil also led with a 1.5.

Back in households, Ellen rose 13% to a 2.7 to take second place in talk. Disney-ABC’s Live With Kelly and Ryan held steady at a 2.4 for third place.

NBCUniversal’s Maury slipped 6% to a 1.5. NBCU’s Steve, starring Steve Harvey, averaged a 1.4, improving 8% from its September premiere in its first February sweep since it moved to the West Coast and was renamed under new production banner Endeavor.

CTD’s Rachael Ray remained at a 1.3. Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, which aired several repeats during the sweep due to Williams being ill, tumbled 20% to a 1.2, tying NBCU’s conflict talkers Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos, both of which sank 14%, and Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz, which declined 8%.

Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily With Chris Hansen held steady at a 1.0. NBCU’s Harry, which will end its run after this season, deteriorated 27% to a 0.8, tying CTD’s The Doctors and Warner Bros.’ The Real, both of which fell back 11%.

Elsewhere, week one of a three-week test of The Raw Word on select Sinclair stations averaged a 0.2 rating/1 share in households, down 60% from its lead in and off 82% from its year-ago time period average. Among women 25-54, the show averaged a 0.3/2, down 25% from lead in and off 77% from last year.

Among the first-run newcomers in their first February sweep, DailyMailTV climbed 22% to a 1.1 in households and 20% to a 0.6 among women 25-54, compared to its September debut.

Twentieth’s Page Six TV, which, unlike DailyMail, competed against the Olympics, held steady at a 0.7 compared to debut and grew 25% among women 25-54 to a 0.5.

Entertainment Studios’ Funny You Should Ask gained 25% from its September opener to a 0.5 in homes and 50% among women 25-54 to a 0.3.

Disney-ABC’s Pickler & Ben, produced by Scripps out of Nashville, was unchanged from its debut at a 0.3 in households and a 0.2 in the key demo.

In access, the only magazine to improve was CTD’s Inside Edition, which added 10% to a 3.3 after moving into improved access time periods at the start of the season. CTD’s Entertainment Tonight was right behind, easing 6% to a 3.2 to lose the lead in the February sweep for the first time in many years.

NBCU’s Access and Warner Bros.’ TMZ were tied at a 1.4 with Access giving back 7% and TMZ slumping 13%. Warner Bros.’ Extra was the only strip besides Inside Edition to avoid declines, holding steady at a 1.3.

Trifecta’s Celebrity Page sagged 33% to a 0.2.

Game shows saw mixed results with the top three tightly bunched. Debmar-Mercury’s FamilyFeud, which was the only show in the category not to retitle for the Olympics, lost 7% to a 6.9. Feud finished just ahead of CTD’s Jeopardy!, which jumped 3% to a 6.8. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune stayed at a 6.7 for third place in the sweep.

Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire appreciated 6% to a 1.8.

Disney-ABC’s viral video show RightThisMinute moved up 7% to a 1.5. NBCU’s off-net true crime strip Dateline registered a 1.4 in its first February outing.

Off-net sitcoms were mostly down, with Olympics preemptions and competition not helping matters. Warner Bros.’ off-net leader The Big Bang Theory fell 9% to a 5.1 in season seven. Twentieth’s Modern Family faltered 19% to a 2.5 in year five. Twentieth’s Last Man Standing skidded 5% to a 1.9 in its sophomore season. SPT’s freshman The Goldbergs posted a 1.8 in its first February sweep, up 6% from its national debut in September. Warner Bros.’ Two and aHalf Men stumbled 38% to a 1.6 in year 11. Twentieth’s Family Guy gave back 25% to a 1.5 in season 11, tying Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly, which moved down 21% to a 1.5 in its fourth chapter. Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls shrank 29% to a 1.2 in year three, while Twentieth’s TheCleveland Show in season five and SPT’s Seinfeld in its 23rd year both shed 8% to a 1.1.

Further back, Warner Bros.’ off-net rookie Mom clocked a 1.0 in its first February, up 25% from its 0.8 September start, and fellow freshman The Game garnered a 0.4 in its first initial February sweep outing, on par with its September debut.

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.