Syndication Ratings: 'Judge Judy' Year's Top Show, While 'Dr. Phil' Leads Talk

The syndication season ended Aug. 31, and two shows were clear winners. CBS Television Distribution's Judge Judy led all of syndication for the third consecutive year, with a season-to-date average of 7.2 household rating, up 7% from last year. And CTD's Dr. Phil led the talk field for the third consecutive year with a 3.0 household average, up 3% from last year. 

Meanwhile, President Obama was the star of daytime during the week of August 24, giving two televised speeches that resulted in widespread preemptions across the syndication landscape. Moreover, levels of people using television were down by more than one million viewers and most shows remained in repeats as the syndication season drew to a close.

Against this background, CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil led the talkers, despite being in reruns. Phil rose 4% to a 2.6 live plus same day household rating, that show’s highest rating since the week of July 14. Dr. Phil also was talk's top show for the 45th time in the past 56 weeks. 

Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael, which has thrived all summer in mostly originals, was the season’s second-place talker, scoring a 2.8, up 7% from last year. For the week, Live aired one pre-taped and four repackaged episodes, and dipped 4% to a 2.4.

NBCUniversal’s Maury moved up sharply in third place, jumping 12% from the prior week to a 1.9 with four previously aired shows. For the season, Maury averaged a 2.0, down 9% from last year at this time.

In fourth place, Warner Bros.’ Ellen remained at its season-low 1.7 for a fourth straight week. For the season, Ellen averaged a 2.5, placing it in third place overall, and up 8% from the prior season.

Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz was off 6% for the week to a 1.5 with encore telecasts all week. For the season, Dr. Oz averaged a 2.0, down 13% year-to-year.

Next up were NBCU’s Steves - Harvey and Wilkos - both of which held steady at a 1.4 and a 1.3, respectively. Compared to the previous year, Harvey had talk’s biggest ratings improvement, gaining 21% to a 1.7. Wilkos averaged a 1.4 for the season, even with the prior year.

CTD’s Rachael Ray cooked up a 9% advance from the prior week to a 1.2, and averaged a 1.4 for the season, steady compared to the previous year. Disney-ABC’s out-of-production Katie eroded 8% to a new series low 1.1, plunging 27% from last year at this time, the biggest drop of any talker. For the full season, Katie averaged a 1.6, down 11% from 2012-13. NBCU’s Jerry Springer stayed at a 1.1, tying Katie. For the year, Springer averaged a 1.2, off 14%.

Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams and CTD’s The Doctors both held firm at a 1.0. Wendy averaged a 1.4 for the season, up 16% year-to-year, while The Doctors averaged a 1.1, which was off 15%. NBCU’s cancelled Trisha added 25% to a 0.5 from a 0.4. For the year, Trisha averaged a 0.5, flat compared to its first season. Meredith’s The Better Show remained at a 0.2, where it’s held for 36 of the past 37 weeks. For the season, Better averaged a 0.2, and wasn’t rated in 2012-13.

Turning to the freshman field, SPT’s Queen Latifah, this year’s only returning show, held steady at a 0.8. For its first season, Latifah averaged a 1.1.

CTD’s The Test, Bethenny and Arsenio Hall — none of which are returning— all were unchanged at a 0.5.

Court shows all were flat to down, with the exception of Twentieth’s soon-to-depart Judge Alex, which rose 8% to a 1.4.

CTD’s Judge Judy led the category for the 935th consecutive week, posting a 6.3, down 5% from the prior week but up 2% from last year at this time. Judy, in all repeats, also was syndication’s highest-rated show for the 22nd straight week, and the highest-rated show in syndication for third consecutive year, with a full-year average of 7.2, up 7% from 2012-13.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was flat at a 1.8 as was Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis at a 1.4, tying Judge Alex. Twentieth’s Divorce Court declined 7% to a 1.3. MGM’s newcomer Paternity Court was flat at a last-place 0.9.

Among the games, CTD’s Wheel of Fortune, which retook sole possession of first place in the previous frame, widened the gap to a 5.9, up 4%. CTD’s Jeopardy! remained at a 5.5 for the third week in a row. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud picked up 4% to a 4.8, while Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, preparing for the arrival of new host Terry Crews, trailed at an unchanged 1.9.

The top-tier magazines all retreated after seeing sharp increases in the prior week on coverage of the tragic death of Robin Williams. CTD’s leader, Entertainment Tonight, receded 14% to a 3.0. CTD’s Inside Edition softened 3% to a 2.8. Warner Bros.’ TMZ faded 6% to a 1.7. NBCU’s Access Hollywood slipped 13% to a 1.4. Warner Bros.’ Extra also gave back 13%, landing at a 1.3. CTD’s The Insider relinquished 15% to a 1.1.

Twentieth’s Dish Nation was flat at a 1.0, where it has been 15 times out of the last 16 weeks. MGM’s RightThisMinute down 9% to a 1.0. Trifecta’s OK! TV lost 25% from a 0.4 to a 0.3, while its out-of-production America Now remained at a 0.3 for the 14th consecutive week.

In off-net syndication, Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory inched up 2% to a 5.7. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men up ticked 3% to a 3.3, and for the first time ever outperformed Twentieth’s freshman Modern Family, which faded 3% to a new season-low 3.2.

Twentieth’s Family Guy was flat at a 2.6. SPT’s Seinfeld and Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show each spurted 6% to a 1.9, tying Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother, which jumped 27%. Warner Bros.’ Friends was flat at a 1.7, while Twentieth’s King of the Hill and Warner Bros.’ The Middle each were flat at a 1.6.

In the metered markets, the Fox Television Stations’ test of weekend comedy half-hour Laughs averaged a 0.4 rating/1 share after five weekends, dropping 50% from its lead-in and 33% from its year ago time period average. Fox’s six-week tests of both Hollywood Today Live and The Daily Helpline have been completed.

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.