To the surprise of virtually no one, CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy has won the May sweep by a wide margin, clocking a 6.9 live plus same day national average, according to Nielsen. The show’s second-highest May tally since 2014.
Now in its 21st season, Judy averaged more than 9.5 million daily viewers and had ratings greater than the other five nationally measured court shows added together.
Judge Judy finished the April 27 through May 24 survey period as May’s highest rated show in syndication for the eighth year in a row despite dipping 4% from last year.
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Of course almost everything in syndication was down from the May 2016 sweep due to audience fragmentation and the skyrocketing popularity of watching on mobile devices, which has plagued television measurement in general, in addition to enormous increases in daytime cable news viewing.
In fact, all of the next four court shows were down by double digits.
CTD’s Hot Bench, the brain child of Judge Judy Sheindlin, was the second-highest courtroom in the sweep, averaging a 2.2, off 12% from last year but still tying Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres as the No. 4 daytime show overall after only Judy, CTD’s Dr. Phil and Disney-ABC’s Live With Kelly and Ryan.
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Warner Bros.’ People’s Court fell 11% to a 1.6 sweep average. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis skidded 14% to a 1.2. Twentieth’s Divorce Court tumbled 17% to a 1.0. Trifecta’s Judge Faith was flat at a 0.8.
Among talk shows, Dr. Phil won convincingly and was the only one in the top 5 to outperform last year, climbing 3% to a 3.3, matching its second-highest May rating since 2008 and averaging about 4.5 million daily viewers.
Although Phil has won every May sweep for the past six years, this was its most lopsided win ever with a 43% advantage over its nearest talk rival. In addition, Dr. Phil had no trouble leading the field among women 25-54 with a 1.5 in the key demo.
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Back in households, second place went to the newly renamed Live With Kelly and Ryan at a 2.3, pulling back 26% from last year but averaging more than 3 million viewers per show. Of course, ratings were inflated last May by terrific viewer interest in the final days of then cohost Michael Strahan. Kelly and Ryan also took second place in the key demo behind only Dr. Phil with a 1.1 among women 25-54.
Finishing behind Live in both households and the demo was Ellen DeGeneres, which dropped 8% to a third place 2.2.
Gapping down more than a half point behind Ellen, NBCUniversal’s Maury was unchanged at a 1.6, although it tied Ellen in the demo at a 1.0 average among women 25-54.
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NBCU’s Steve Harvey, which will be relaunched from Los Angeles next season, sank 17% to a fifth place 1.5. Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams weakened 13% to 1.4.
Conflict talkers NBCU’s Steve Wilkos and Jerry Springer tied at a 1.3 with Wilkos sagging 7% and Springer adding 8%.
CTD’s Rachael Ray retreated 14% to a 1.2. Its lowest May rating ever, tying Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz, which also hemorrhaged 14% of its ratings to an all-time low for May of 1.2.
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From NBCU, Harry Connick Jr.’s Harry, the sole new first run strip this season, which was already renewed for a second season, averaged a 1.0 for its first May appearance with some solid NSI year-to-year time period increases, including 53% in Fort Myers, Fla., 175% in Tampa, Fla., and 400% in St. Louis.
True crime series Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily With Chris Hansen was one of the few to buck the down trend, holding steady at a 0.9 while capturing a 60% increase in top-market New York on The CW affiliate WPIX and averaging more than 1.2 million daily viewers nationally.
CTD’s The Doctors was also up sharply in Gotham, doubling its rating on CBS affiliate WLNY despite slipping 20% to a 0.8 nationally and tying Warner Bros.’ The Real, which receded 11% to a 0.8.
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In access, the May survey said Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud was the favorite game show with viewers, although it eroded 11% to a 6.3. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune fell 9% to a 5.8 and remained the runner up by a narrow margin over CTD’s third place Jeopardy!, which softened 5% to a 5.7.
Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, with stronger clearances this season, rose 23% to a 1.6, while Debmary-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, which will end its run after three seasons, lost 14% to a 1.2.
Meanwhile, Disney-ABC’s viral video show RightThisMinute, which like Millionaire has been given improved time periods, added 18% to a 1.3.
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Magazines were mostly lower thanks in large part to the aforementioned sharp increases in cable news viewing.
CTD’s Entertainment Tonight dipped 6% to a 2.9 but remained the category leader for the 106th consecutive sweep. The last time ET was defeated in a sweep was in July 1990 by the original newsmag A Current Affair.
CTD’s Inside Edition slumped 7% to a 2.7. Warner Bros.’ TMZ deteriorated 17% to a 1.5. NBCU’s Access Hollywood shrank 19% to a 1.3. Warner Bros.’ Extra, which was preempted numerous times during the sweep, gave back 14% to a 1.2, although it ended the sweep on a positive note with the strongest weekly increase of any top-tier magazine in the session ending May 28, spiking 9% to a 1.2.
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CTD’s The Insider eased 17% to a 1.0, Twentieth’s Dish Nation plunged 22% to a 0.7, and Trifecta’s Celebrity Page was unchanged at a modest 0.3.
In off-net syndication, ratings for the sitcoms were no laughing matter as most declined by double digits.
Warner Bros.’ leader The Big Bang Theory, cooled down 9% to a 4.8 in year six. Twentieth’s Modern Family faded 13% to a 2.6 in season four. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men moved down 15% to a 2.2 in its 10th go-around. Twentieth’s Family Guy relinquished 10% to a 1.8, also in year 10. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly, surrendered 16% to a 1.6 in its third season, tying freshman Twentieth’s Last Man Standing, which registered a 1.6 in its first May appearance. Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls lost 26% to a 1.4 in its sophomore year. SPT’s Seinfeld sank 33% to a 1.2 in season 22. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show erased 25% of its ratings in season 4 to a 1.2, tying Seinfeld. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother waved goodbye to 31% in year 7 to a 1.1, while Twentieth’s King of the Hill descended 15% in year 16 to a 1.1, tying Mother.
Jessika is content engagement director of Broadcasting + Cable, Multichannel News and NextTV. She has been with the brands in various roles since 2013. In her current role, she works primarily behind the screen, keeping an eye on the website and fixing any site bugs. A graduate of USC Annenberg, Jessika has edited and reported on a variety of subjects for NextTV, including profiles on industry leaders and breaking news.
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