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Syndication Ratings: Most Talkers, Magazines and Court Shows Down

Syndicated talk shows took the biggest year-to-year beating during the week ending Dec. 10, with all but a few falling by double digits from the same post-sweeps week in 2005.

Only two of 13 chat shows, which were mostly in reruns, managed to keep the declines small: King World’s Dr. Phil (5.2), down 2% from last year’s 5.3; and Warner Bros.’ Ellen, which hit a season high for the second consecutive week, scoring her best performance since early April with a 4% improvement to 2.4, but still off 8% from last year’s 2.6.

It was the first time since the week of Sept. 11 that Ellen, which has suffered this season from weaker lead-ins and going head-to-head with Oprah in large markets like New York, finished in fourth place ahead of NBC Universal’s Maury (2.3), which was unchanged for the week and down 18% from a year ago.

The only other talk show to improve during the week, NBC U’s Jerry Springer, rose 6% to 1.7 from 1.6 but still dropped 19% year-to-year after losing some double runs this season.

Among the remaining top talkers, top-rated Oprah (6.5) dropped 10% from a 7.2 last year and Buena Vista TV’s Live with Regis & Kelly (3.5) fell a like amount from a year-ago 3.9.

Of the rookies, Rachael Ray (2.2) remained even week to week, ahead of Warner Bros. Keith Ablow (1.1), holding its ground for the week. NBC U’s Megan Mullally took sole possession of third place among the freshmen for the first time since the week of Oct. 9 unchanged at 0.9, while Sony’s Greg Behrendt slipped 11% from 0.9 to 0.8.

The NBC station group’s new iVillage Live, which started Dec. 4 on its 10 O&Os, averaged a 0.6 rating/2 share in its first two weeks, holding steady from week one to two. Airing mostly in midday slots, it was down 40% from a 1.0/4 lead-in and 50% from the year-ago average of the cancelled Starting Over (1.2/4).

Like talk, magazines were also strong last year. They suffered more modest year-to-year declines during the week.

Only Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight (5.4) finished up from 2005, rising 4% from 5.2. Compared to a year ago, King World’s Inside Edition lost 5%, from 3.7 to 3.5; Paramount’s The Insider fell 7% from 2.8 to 2.6; NBC U’s Access Hollywood dropped 10% from 2.9 to 2.6; and Warner Bros.’ Extra declined 8% from 2.4 to 2.2.

None of the court shows were up for the year, and with more on the way next season the genre could face continued tough sledding. The losses ranged from 2% for Paramount’s top dog Judge Judy (4.9 to 4.8) to 25% for Twentieth TV’s Divorce Court (2.8 to 2.1)—which gave up a big amount of double runs this season for other court shows, and Sony’s Judge Hatchett (2.0 to 1.5).

Two of the four game shows managed to buck the year-to-year decreases, with King World’s top-ranked Wheel of Fortune flat at 8.8 and Buena Vista TV’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire ahead by 9% to 3.6 from 3.3.