Syndication Ratings: As New Season Starts, Shows Spring Back to Life

Three of the top four talk shows—Live with Kelly, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Harvey—launched their new seasons in the week that began with Labor Day and ended on Sept. 11.

CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil was not one of them, but the show managed to jump 17% from the prior week to lead talk with a 2.7 live plus same day household average, according to Nielsen Media Research. That marks Phil’s best number since the week ending June 19. Phil was in originals for the show’s final week of season 14.

Dr. Phil opened its 15th season on Monday, Sept. 12, with a two-part exclusive interview with JonBenét Ramsey’s brother, Burke, which averaged a 4.1 rating/12 over the two days.

Related: Syndication Ratings: Shows Slow on Eve of New TV Season

Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly bowed season 29, growing 9% from the prior week to a five-week high 2.5. Live launched in national syndication in 1988 as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, after starting as a local show on WABC New York in 1983 hosted by Regis Philbin and Cyndy Garvey.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres, which had been in repeats since late May, returned to original programming and surged 44% to a 2.3 to begin season 14.

NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey also premiered during the week and advanced 7% to a fourth-place 1.5 but was down 17% from its season-four opening week last year. In several top markets, NBC has moved Steve Harvey back to lower-rated 2 p.m. time slots (and Ellen to 3 p.m. slots) to make room for local news at 4 p.m.

Related: NBC Stations Renew ‘Ellen’ Through 2020

As for the rest of the talkers, NBCU’s Maury was flat at a 1.4, remaining at its series low; CTD’s Rachael Ray added 8% to a 1.3 and NBCU’s Steve Wilkos stayed at a 1.2. 

Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz also was flat for the week at a 1.2 in national households. In the metered markets, Oz’ primary-run overnights jumped day to day from a 1.1/4 to a 1.8/6 on Sept. 15 when Donald Trump appeared on the show.

Related: ‘Dr. Oz’ Gets Ratings Bump with Trump

Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams remained at a 1.1 for the week. NBCU’s Jerry Springer sagged 9% to a 1.0. CTD’s The Doctors, which was one of only two talkers to move up in the prior session, held steady at a 0.9. Warner Bros.’ The Real retreated 14% to a 0.6, matching its series low.

In the overnights for the session ended Sept. 18, NBCU’s Harry, the only new first-run strip to be cleared in national syndication, averaged a premiere week 1.1 rating/3 share primary run weighted metered market average in households and a 0.5/3 among women 25-54. Harry retained 100% of its year-ago household and demo averages.

Tegna’s TD Jakes, cleared on some 70 local TV stations and cable network OWN, posted a 0.7/2 in households in the overnights and a 0.3/2 in the demo. That was down by 30% in households and 25% among women 25-54 compared to last year’s time-period averages, but Jakes only airs in 33 of the 56 metered markets.

Tribune’s Robert Irvine, which replaced Bill Cunningham on The CW, trailed with an opening 0.5/2, down 17% from year-ago time periods and a 0.3/2 among women 25-54, even with year ago.

Back in the nationals, Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily, which will be hosted by Chris Hansen in season two, held steady at a 0.8 with reruns in the final week of its rookie season.

CTD’s court and syndication leader Judge Judy presented one repeat and four originals in the final week of its 20th season and ticked down 1% to a 6.8, more than enough to lead all of syndication for the sixth week in a row. 

CTD’s Hot Bench, in reruns for the week, held firm at a 2.2 and improved 22% from last year, the biggest annual improvement of any strip in syndication.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court started season 20 unchanged at a 1.6. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis recovered 8% from its season low in the prior week and began season 18 at a 1.3. Twentieth’s Divorce Court dropped 10% to a 0.9 for its season opener. Trifecta’s Judge Faith was flat at a 0.7. 

Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud dipped 2% to a 6.2, but was the top-rated game show for the 20th week in a row, even though its new season did not begin until Sept. 12 with the rest of the games.

CTD’s Wheel of Fortune skidded 4% to a 5.4. CTD’s Jeopardy! followed suit, also losing 4% to a 5.0. Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game was flat at a 1.3, tying Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which got an 8% raise. 

Viral video show RightThisMinute was unchanged at a 1.1. The show stopped being distributed by MGM at the beginning of the year and moved to Disney-ABC. RightThisMinute started airing on ABC owned stations at the start of this season.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight slipped 3% to a 2.8. CTD’s Inside Edition fell 4% to a 2.6. NBCU’s Access Hollywood was flat at a 1.5. Warner Bros.’ TMZ, the website of which on Tuesday broke the story that Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, tumbled 7% to a 1.4. Warner Bros.’ Extra eased 8% to a 1.1. CTD’s The Insider was unchanged at a 1.0. Twentieth’s Dish Nation declined 11% to a 0.8. Trifecta’s Celebrity Page registered its usual 0.3 for the 24th week in a row.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory dipped 2% to a 4.7. Twentieth’s Modern Family faded 4% to a 2.7. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men remained at a 2.4. Twentieth’s Family Guy retreated 5% to a 1.9. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly stood pat at a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls fell 6% to a 1.7, tying SPT’s Seinfeld, which added 6%. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother stayed at a 1.5. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show climbed 8% to a 1.4 and Twentieth’s King of the Hill was flat at a 1.3.

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.