Syndication Ratings: Magazines Gain on Tragic News of Robin Williams' Death

Magazines saw dramatic increases in the week ending Aug. 17, fueled by extensive coverage of the life and tragic death of Robin Williams.

CBS Television Distribution’s magazine leader Entertainment Tonight ballooned 21% for the week to a 3.5 live plus same day household ratings average, that show’s strongest rating since March. CTD’s Inside Edition added 7% to a 2.9. Warner Bros.’ TMZ, which often breaks major entertainment news on its Web site, ironically had the smallest gain of the top six, moving up 6% to a 1.8. NBCUniversal’s Access Hollywood surged 14% to a 1.6, that show’s highest rating in 12 weeks. Warner Bros.’ Extra improved 25%, the biggest leap of any top-tier magazine, to a 1.5, that show’s best performance since the week of June 9. Extra also climbed 15% from last year at this time, the most of any magazine. CTD’s The Insider scored its largest rating in seven weeks, a 1.3, up 18% from the prior session.

MGM’s RightThisMinute gained 10% to a 1.1. Twentieth’s Dish Nation bounced off its season low to recover 11% to a 1.0, where it has been 14 times in the past 15 weeks. Trifecta’s OK! TV climbed 33% from a 0.3 to 0.4, while its out-of-production America Now remained at a 0.3 for the 13th consecutive week.

In contrast to magazines’ rally, talk shows, mostly in repeats, were flat to down as late-summer viewing levels declined. NBCU’s Steve Wilkos was the only talker out of 17 to gain over the previous week, advancing 8% to a 1.3.

CTD’s Dr. Phil tied Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael for talk’s top spot at a 2.5. Phil was even with the prior frame, despite being completely in reruns, while Live, which has been drawing its largest audiences in seven years and finished first or tied for first in nine of the past ten weeks, dipped 4% for the week.

The top two were well ahead of NBCU’s Maury and Warner Bros.’ Ellen, which tied for third at a 1.7. Maury was off 6% for the week, while Ellen was flat at its season low for a third straight week.

SPT’s Dr. Oz, which was one of just two talkers to gain in the prior week, held on to its gains with a steady 1.6. An all-repeat week of NBCU’s Steve Harvey slipped 7% to a 1.4. Disney-ABC’s Katie, which has ceased production, was flat at a 1.2, while sinking 20% from last year at this time, the sharpest year-to-year decline of any talk show.

CTD’s Rachael Ray, primarily in repeats, receded 8% to a 1.1, tying NBCU’s Jerry Springer, which held steady at a 1.1. Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams weakened 9% to a 1.0, with one original and four repeats during the week. That tied CTD’s The Doctors, also in repeats, which was flat.

NBCU’s cancelled Trisha was unchanged at a 0.4. Meredith’s The Better Show remained at a 0.2 for the 35th out of 36 weeks.

SPT’s Queen Latifah, the only returning rookie, was off 11% to a 0.8 with a week of repeats. CTD’s The Test was marked down 17% to a 0.5, tying Warner Bros.’ Bethenny and CTD’s Arsenio Hall, both of which were flat.

CTD’s Judge Judy, in repeats, had no trouble topping the overall syndication chart for the 21st week in a row, with a 6.6, off 1% for the week but still up 6% for the year. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, the number-two gaveler, unchanged at a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis was flat at a 1.4, tying Twentieth’s Divorce Court, which gained 8%. Twentieth’s Judge Alex, which is stepping down from the bench, was flat at a 1.3, while MGM’s freshman Paternity Court trailed with a 0.9, losing 10% from the prior session.

The game shows bounced back, with CTD’s Wheel of Fortune regaining leadership over the genre with a 4% gain to a 5.7, edging ahead of CTD’s Jeopardy!, which was unchanged at a 5.5. Debmar-Mercury’s Steve Harvey-led Family Feud perked up 5% to a 4.6. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire was flat at a 1.9.

CTD’s The Big Bang Theory, whose Jim Parsons just won his fourth Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy, rebounded 4% to a 5.6 after a drop-off in the previous week. Twentieth’s rookie Modern Family, which won its fifth consecutive Emmy for outstanding comedy, remained at its season-low 3.3. Warner Bros.’ veteran Two and a Half Men followed right behind, climbing 7% to a 3.2. Twentieth’s Family Guy softened 4% to a 2.6. SPT’s Seinfeld skidded 5% to a 1.8, tying Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show, which was unchanged. Warner Bros.’ Friends and The Middle and Twentieth’s King of the Hill all were flat at a 1.7, 1.6 and 1.6, respectively. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother tumbled 12% to a 1.5.

The Fox owned television stations wrapped up its pair of six-week tests during the week. Hollywood Today Live averaged a 0.5 rating/2 share metered market household average over its full six-week tryout, dropping 37% from its lead-in and 28% from its year-ago time period average. The show did manage to grow by a tenth of a ratings point from week one to week six, rising 20% to a 0.6 compared to its 0.5 start in households.

The show also did show some growth on local stations over its test. On WNYW New York, Hollywood Today Live grew 50% among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54 in its final week, growing to a 0.6 from a 0.4. On WTTG Los Angeles, the show grew 100% over last year’s time period in households, moving to a 0.6 from a 0.3, and among women 25-54, growing to a 0.4 from a 0.2. Similarly, on WFLD Chicago Hollywood Today Live grew 100% in households from its previous week, to a 0.4 from a 0.2, and 33% from premiere week.

The Daily Helpline averaged a 0.1/0 over its six-week test, down 66% from its lead-in and 75% from its year-ago time periods.

Finally, weekend show Laughs is averaging a 0.4/1 over its first four weekends, declining 50% from its lead-in and 33% from its year ago time period.

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.