Syndication Ratings: March Madness Still Holds Sway Over Syndies

The trifecta of March Madness, news preemptions and daylight saving time again took their toll on syndies, with most shows flat or down in the week ending March 27.

Only three of 15 talk shows improved from the prior week: CBS Television Distribution’s Rachael Ray, NBCUniversal’s Steve Wilkos and Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz.

Rachael rallied 7% to a 1.5 live plus same day household average, according to Nielsen Media Research, and grew 15% from last year at this time, the best year-to-year performance of any talker. Wilkos advanced 8% to a 1.4, up 8% from last year, the second best annual increase in talk, and tying Dr. Oz, which also gained 8% for the week but came in flat year to year.

CTD’s Dr. Phil remained in the talk lead even though the show was in reruns for most of the week and dove 7% to a 2.7. 

Meanwhile, the rating for Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael, which usually finishes first or second in the genre, is being reprocessed due to news cut-ins due to the terrorist bombings in Brussels.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres dropped 4% in households to a 2.3. 

NBCU’s Steve Harvey, NBCU’s Maury, Debmar-Mercury’s WendyWilliams, NBCU’s JerrySpringer and CTD’s The Doctors all were unchanged for the week at a 1.8, 1.6, 1.6, 1.2 and 1.0, respectively. 

Warner Bros.’ The Real retreated 10% to a 0.9 after five consecutive weeks at a 1.0 and lost 18% from last year at this time, the biggest annual drop of any veteran talk show. NBCU’s Meredith Vieira, which is nearing the end of its run, eroded 11% to a 0.8.

Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily held steady to lead the rookies at a 1.0, while Disney-ABC’s soon-to-end FABLife sank 13% to a 0.7. NBCU’s Crazy Talk, which also is ending production, stayed at a 0.5.

CTD’s Judge Judy, despite being completely in reruns, gained 3% for the week to a syndication-leading 6.7 and added 10% from last year at this time.

CTD’s Hot Bench, the number-two courtroom, was in repeats for part of the week and dipped 4% for the week to a 2.4, although it added 50% from last year, the most of any syndicated strip. In addition, the sophomore strip ranked as the third-highest rated daytime strip, behind only Judge Judy and Dr. Phil, and outperforming Ellen for a second-straight week.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court faded 5% to a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis, Twentieth’s DivorceCourt and Trifecta’s JudgeFaith all were flat at a 1.5, 1.2 and 0.9, respectively. 

In access, none of the game shows improved for the week. Debmar-Mercury’s FamilyFeud led the pack for the fourth week out of the past five, holding firm at a 6.4.  CTD’s Wheel of Fortune, airing on ABC owned and affiliated stations in top markets and facing strong competition from March Madness games, forfeited 5% to a new season-low 5.7. CTD’s Jeopardy!, which is similarly cleared, fell 4% to a 5.5.

Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game and Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire both were tied and flat at a 1.3, with Name Game unchanged for the year and Millionaire down 28%.

The only game to improve from last at this time was Family Feud, which added 3%. Wheel was down 11%, while Jeopardy! weakened 13%. FamilyFeud also led all of first-run syndication among the genre’s key demographic of women 25-54 at a 3.3.

Meanwhile, MGM’s viral video show RightThisMinute remained at a 1.1 for the fourth straight week, although it declined 21% from last year at this time. 

Among magazines, CTD’s The Insider was the only strip moving higher, strengthening 9% for the week and year. CTD’s leader Entertainment Tonight, CTD’s InsideEdition, Warner Bros.’ TMZ, NBCU’s Access Hollywood, Warner Bros.’ Extra and Twentieth’s Dish Nation all were steady at a 3.3, 2.7, 1.8, 1.6, 1.4 and 0.9, respectively.

In last place, Trifecta’s OK! TV lost 33%, dropping to a 0.2 from a 0.3.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory led the off-net sitcoms at a 5.8, down 2% for the week. Twentieth’s Modern Family fell 9% to a 3.2. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men and Twentieth’s Family Guy remained at a 2.7 and 2.1 respectively. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly, Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother and Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls all moved 5% lower to a 2.0, 1.9 and 1.8, respectively. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show stood pat at a 1.7. SPT’s Seinfeld recovered 6% to a 1.7, tying Cleveland, while Twentieth’s King of the Hill climbed 8% to a 1.4. 

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.