Syndication Ratings: Magazines Rise on Ongoing Sterling Racism Story

The racism scandal that enveloped LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling elevated the syndicated entertainment magazines in the first full week of the May sweep, which ended May 4.

Every one of the top eight magazines grew from the prior week, thanks in part to extensive coverage of the Sterling story, which TMZ broke on its Web site on Friday, April 25. Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers, has been banned for life and heavily fined by the NBA in response to racist comments he made in a recorded conversation.

CBS Television Distribution’s magazine leader Entertainment Tonight gained 3% from the prior week to a 3.4 live plus same day household ratings average, according to Nielsen Media Research, in what was executive producer Brad Bessey’s first week at the helm of both ET and CTD’s The Insider. CTD’s Inside Edition also added 3% landing at a 3.1. Warner Bros.’ TMZ, which broke the Sterling story and is itself the subject of a sexual discrimination lawsuit, rose 6% to a third-place 1.9. NBCU’s Access Hollywood spiked 7% to a 1.6. Warner Bros.’ Extra also added 7% to hit a 1.5, and also gained the most for the year of any magazine, climbing 7%. CTD’s The Insider surged 8%, the largest weekly increase in the top tier, to a 1.3.

MGM’s RightThisMinute added 10% to a 1.1. Twentieth’s Dish Nation recovered 11% from the previous session to a 1.0. Trifecta’s America Now, nearing the end of its run, and Trifecta’s OK! TV both were flat at a 0.3.

CTD’s Dr. Phil maintained its hold on talk’s top spot, and was the only strip in syndication to see its ratings jump three weeks in a row. Phil opened up its widest lead in talk since one year ago, clocking a 3.5, the show’s best rating in eight weeks, up 6% for the week and year. Phil also was up 6% among women 25-54 to a first-place 1.9.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen improved 8% to overcome Disney-ABC’s Live With Kelly and Michael and take second place at a 2.8. Live was just behind at a 2.7, dipping 4% for the week but gaining 8% from last year at this time.

In fourth place, Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz had the strongest weekly advance among the top-ten talk shows, shooting up 15% to a 2.3, the show’s highest rating since the week of February 3. Oz also tied Live for third place among women 25-54, spiking 8% to a 1.3.

NBCU’s Maury, in fifth, was steady at a 1.9 in households and was tied for the first time ever by NBCU’s sophomore Steve Harvey, which strengthened 6% for the week and 27% for the year, the biggest year-to-year gain among the talkers. Harvey also up sharply among women 25-54, surging 22% to a 1.1. Disney-ABC’s Katie, which was not renewed for a third season, recovered 7% to a 1.5.

NBCU’s Steve Wilkos slipped 7% to a 1.4, landing in a tie with Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, which was flat. CTD’s Rachael Ray rallied 8% to a 1.3. NBCU’s Jerry Springer eased 8% to a 1.2. CTD’s The Doctors held firm at a 1.1, while NBCU’s already canceled Trisha was flat at a 0.5 and Meredith’s The Better Show was unchanged at a 0.2.

SPT’s Queen Latifah continued to lead the daytime rookies with a 1.2, the show’s highest rating in four weeks, up 9% from the prior week. Latifah also gained 14% among women 25-54 to a 0.8. Warner Bros.’ Bethenny, which will end its run, rebounded 17% from its series low to a 0.7. CTD’s The Test, also wrapping up its one and only year, remained flat at a 0.6 for the tenth consecutive week.

In late night, CTD’s Arsenio Hall was steady at a 0.7.

Elsewhere in daytime, the top three court shows all were higher. CTD’s leader Judge Judy nearly quadrupled her nearest courtroom rival with a 7.4, up 6% from the prior week and up 9% from last year at this time. Judy also topped all of syndication for the 33rd time in the last 36 weeks.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was a distant second with a 1.9, up 6% for the week. Twentieth’s Divorce Court perked up 7% to a 1.5. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis and Twentieth’s soon-to-end Judge Alex both were flat at a 1.4, while MGM’s newcomer Paternity Court trailed at a flat 1.0. The game show race remained close with only two-tenths of a ratings point separating the top two for the third week in a row.

CTD’s leader Wheel of Fortune and its second-ranked Jeopardy! both climbed 5% from the previous session to a 6.9 and 6.7, respectively. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud finished ahead 6% to a 5.2, and also led the category among women 25-54 with a 2.6 to Wheel’s 2.5 and Jeopardy!’s 2.4. In fourth place among the games, Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which is replacing Cedric the Entertainer with Terry Crews next season, improved 5% to a 2.2.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory continued to lead the off-net sitcoms at a flat 6.1. Twentieth’s rookie Modern Family also was flat, holding at a 4.2 for the third consecutive week. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men moved up 3% to a 3.4. Twentieth’s Family Guy remained at a 2.6. SPT’s Seinfeld spiked 6% to a 1.9. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show was unchanged at a 1.8, tying Friends, which was flat for the 11th week in a row. Twentieth’s King of the Hill rose 7% to a 1.6, tying How I Met Your Mother, which tumbled 11% to a new series low and Warner Bros.’ The Middle, which was flat.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for The Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.). 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.