Skip to main content

Syndication Ratings: March Madness Sinks Ratings as Tourney Gets Underway

The NCCA’s annual college basketball tournament, March Madness, dunked on syndication in the week ending March 24.

Some of the early round games were on cable and others were on CBS causing many syndicated shows to face stronger than usual competition or outright preemptions. Additionally, various daytime shows were bounced on March 22 by coverage of the Mueller report, which was finally delivered to the Justice Department.

Only two of the 14 talk shows managed to climb versus the prior week: Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams and NBCUniversal’s Steve, starring Steve Harvey.

Wendy Williams — the host of which was in her third week back after taking two months off due to illness, injury and battles with substance abuse — recovered 7% to match the show’s season high, a 1.5 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Steve was in repeats for part of the week but nevertheless improved 8% to a 1.3.

At the top of the talkers, CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil aired two days of reruns and was battered by preemptions, losing 11% to a 2.5. However, Phil led the category for the 133rd week in a row with five ties. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Phil also led with a 1.0.

Disney’s Live with Kelly and Ryan occupied second place for a fourth straight week even with four days of repackaged shows and one pre-taped original, dipping 4% to a 2.2. Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres settled for third with an unchanged 1.9.

NBCU’s Maury maintained a 1.4 for the fourth consecutive week, while NBCU’s Steve Wilkos and CTD’s Rachael Ray each remained at a 1.1.

Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz descend 9% to a 1.0. Warner Bros.’ TheReal registered a 0.7 for the 11th straight week. CTD’s The Doctors dispensed a 0.6 for the seventh straight week. Disney’s Pickler & Ben, produced by E.W. Scripps, boasted a 0.4 for a ninth consecutive week, tying the syndication version of NBCU’s out-of-production Jerry Springer, which was constant for a 28th week.

CTD’s rookie Face the Truth and Debmar-Mercury’s renewed Caught in Providence were both flat at a 0.8 and 0.6, respectively.

Elsewhere, CTD’s JudgeJudy aired encore episodes for most of the week and pulled back 9% to a 6.3, but that was still good enough to lead syndication in households for a 37th straight week with four ties.

CTD’s HotBench, which celebrated its 1000th episode on Wednesday, March 27, was the only court show to improve. Despite being in reruns on four of the five days, Bench climbed 5% to a 2.3 and ranked as the third-highest daytime strip behind only Judy and Phil.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court overturned its gain of the prior week, dropping back 7% to a 1.4. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis and Fox’s Divorce Court stayed at a 1.0 and 0.7, respectively.

There were no weekly winners among the games, although Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud regained sole possession of first place for the first time since the week of Feb. 11 with a flat 5.9. CTD’s Jeopardy!, which had finished first for the past three weeks, slid 11% to a 5.6 for second place. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune rolled back 11% to a third-place 5.5.

Disney’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire lost 6% to a 1.6. Entertainment Studios’ Funny You Should Ask held at a 0.5.

Disney’s viral video show RightThisMinute slowed 8% to a 1.2.

Magazines mostly held their ground, although CTD’s leaders Entertainment Tonight and InsideEdition both declined 10% to a 2.8.

Inside Edition host Deborah Norville on Monday announced that she would be undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous nodule in her thyroid that she discovered after a sharp-eyed viewer suggested she get checked.

NBCU’s Access, Warner Bros.’ TMZ, Warner Bros.’ Extra and CTD’s DailyMailTV all held steady at a 1.3, 1.3, 1.1 and 1.0, respectively. Fox’s Page Six TV fell back 14% to a 0.6. Trifecta’s Celebrity Page reversed its prior week’s decline to recover 50% back to a 0.3.

On the true-crime beat, NBCU’s Dateline dropped 14% to a 1.2. SPT’s off-A&E Live PD Police Patrol softened 9% to a 1.0. Off-Investigation Discovery’s True Crime Files exposed a flat 0.3.

NBCU’s lone off-net scripted strip, Chicago PD, gave back 9% from its season high to a 1.0.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory, which is nearing the end of its run on CBS’ primetime, gained 4% to lead the off-net sitcoms at a 4.7. Disney’s Last Man Standing and Modern Family stood pat at a 2.4 and 1.9, respectively. Disney’s Family Guy grew 14% to a new season-high 1.6. SPT’s The Goldbergs and Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men remained at a 1.4. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly moved up 9% to a 1.2. Disney’s Black-ish was on par with the prior week’s 1.1 SPT’s Seinfeld and Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls again both held at a 1.0. 

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.