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Syndication Ratings: 'Live!' Wins Talk Show Race for First Time This Season

Disney-ABC's Live! with Kelly and Michael got a big gift in the week before Christmas, winning the talk-show race for the first time since the first week of the season when the show debuted its new cohost, Michael Strahan, on Sept. 4. That makes Live! the first talker this season to dethrone CBS Television Distribution's Dr. Phil, which has been the top talker every other week.

The pre-holiday session ended on Sunday, Dec. 23, and, spiced liberally with reruns, was generally down or flat.

Live! took advantage of a pre-Christmas week of all originals, featuring celebrity guests including Richard Gere, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and Cassadee Pope, the winner of NBC's The Voice. Live! grew 8% from the prior week to a 2.8 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, matching its season high.

Warner Bros.' Ellen notched a second-place 2.7, down 7% from the prior frame but up 29% from the same week last year. Ellen was tops among talkers in total viewers, with 3.67 million average viewers, and in daytime's key demographic of women 25-54 at a 1.8.

CTD's Dr. Phil dropped back two places to come in third at a 2.6, slipping 16% for the week, in which the show aired low-rated original episodes that featured host Dr. Phil McGraw following up on the Newtown school shooting as well as a smattering of repeats.

NBCU's Maury strengthened 9% to a 2.4 for the week, and won the talk race among women 18-34 and 18-49 at a 1.5 and 1.6, respectively. Sony's Dr. Oz came in fifth, falling 4% to a 2.3.  CTD's Rachael Ray gained 14% to a 1.6 in a week which featured a full-hour guest appearance by former Live! host Regis Philbin on Dec. 17.
NBCU's Steve Wilkos advanced 7% to a 1.5, tying its series high. NBCU's Jerry Springer was steady at a 1.4. Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams climbed 18% to a new season-high 1.3.

CTD's The Doctors and Anderson Live! each dipped 8% to a 1.2 and 1.1, respectively.

All of the talk rookies except Twentieth's Ricki Lake were flat. Disney-ABC's Katie held at a 1.8. NBCU's Steve Harvey and CTD's Jeff Probst both were steady at a 1.4 and 0.7, respectively. Ricki Lake added one-tenth of a point or 17% to a 0.7, while NBCU's Trisha remained at a 0.5.

The games moved very little. CTD's Wheel of Fortune weakened 1% from the previous week to a 7.3. CTD's Jeopardy! dropped 3% to a 6.4. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud improved 2% to a 4.7. Disney-ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was flat at a 2.3, while NBCU's newcomer Baggage lost 8% to a 1.1.

Warner Bros.' TMZ was the only magazine to gain ground both for the week and the year, rallying 5% for both and equaling its season-high 2.0.

CTD's leader Entertainment Tonight eased 8% to a 2.6, but remained up 3% from last year. CTD's Inside Edition declined 3% to a 3.2. NBCU's Access Hollywood dipped 11% to a 1.7, after scoring a season high in the prior frame. Warner Bros.' Extra yielded 6% to a 1.5. CTD's The Insider was off 7% to a 1.4, while Twentieth's newcomer Dish Nation trailed at an unchanged 1.0.

Among the court shows, CTD's Judge Judy dipped 4% for the week to a 6.7. CTD's Judge Joe Brown and Warner Bros.' People's Court each were flat at a 2.3 and 1.8, respectively. Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis inched up 7% to a 1.6. Twentieth's Judge Alex was steady at a 1.3. Twentieth's Divorce Court declined 14% to a 1.2. Entertainment Studios' America's Court dropped 13% to a 0.7. ES' freshman Justice for All and sophomore We the People both were unchanged at a 0.4 and 0.2, respectively.

Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory tacked on 1% to hit a 7.4 and lead all of syndication. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men moved ahead 2% to a 5.5. Twentieth's Family Guy gained 5% to a 4.0. Twentieth's How I Met Your Mother moved up 4% to a 2.9. Sony's Seinfeld spiked 8% to a new season high 2.6. Twentieth's King of the Hill climbed 4% to a new season-high 2.3. Warner Bros.' Friends rose 10% to a 2.3 and CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond remained steady at a 2.0.