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Syndication Ratings: Oprah Gets Help from Friends

An all-star lineup that included Tom Cruise, Barbara Walters, Tina Turner and Cher boosted CBS’ The Oprah Winfrey Show by 14% in the week ending May 11 to a 5.8 live-plus-same-day national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Oprah was the only talk show to be up for the week, which included the second full week of May sweeps.

While that’s a notable improvement from the show’s season low, which it hit three weeks ago, it’s still lower than the show’s season-high 6.7.

Ratings for most other syndication shows were in the doldrums as levels of people using television dropped by more than 1.3 million from the prior week.

The rest of talk’s ratings weren’t so impressive. CBS’ Dr. Phil dipped 2% to a 4.3. Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly fell 4% to a new season low 2.5. Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres and CBS’ Rachael Ray each were flat at a 2.1 and a 1.8, respectively. NBC Universal’s Maury dropped 11% to a 1.7. CBS’ Montel Williams remained at its season low 1.2. NBCU’s Jerry Springer was down 8% to a 1.1, matching its season low. Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks was unchanged at a 1.0, tying Twentieth Television’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, the rookie leader in daytime for the season, which also was unchanged. Fellow rookie NBCU’s Steve Wilkos dropped 10% to a 0.9. Finally, NBCU’s Martha, which did not air in several markets for part of the week due to news and sports coverage, plunged 20% to a season low 0.8.

CBS’ Judge Judy continues to lead the court shows by a wide margin, dipping 4% from the prior week to a 4.7 but still improving 7% from last year at this time. That makes Judy the only court show to outperform its year-ago delivery. CBS’ Judge Joe Brown and Warner Bros.’ People’s Court each were flat at a 2.6 and a 2.3, respectively. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis fell 5% to a 1.8. Twentieth’s Divorce Court dropped 6% to a 1.7, tying Twentieth’s Judge Alex, which was flat. Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court lost 8% to tie its season low at a 1.1. Sony’s Judge Hatchett was unchanged at a 1.1, tying Cristina’s Court. Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez fell 11% to a 0.8, tying Sony’s rookie, Judge David Young, which was flat. Radar Entertainment’s newcomer, Jury Duty, trailed with a 0.3, up 50% from the prior week’s 0.2.

The magazines were mostly lower, except for CBS’ The Insider and NBCU’s Access Hollywood, each of which were unchanged at a 2.1. CBS’ leader Entertainment Tonight fell 9% to a 4.1. CBS’ Inside Edition, in second place, dropped 3% to a 3.0. Warner Bros.’ rookie leader, TMZ, decreased 5% to a 2.1, tying Insider and Access for third place. Warner Bros.’ Extra was down 6% to a 1.7.

The games also were mostly lower, but two shows improved year-to-year: CBS’ Jeopardy!, in second place, was down 6% for the week but up 5% for the year to a 5.9. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud fell 6% from the prior week to a 1.7 but improved 6% from last year. Meanwhile, CBS’ genre and syndication leader, Wheel of Fortune, dropped 5% to a 7.1. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, in third place, fell 7% to tie its season-low 2.7. The rookies -- Program Partners’ Merv Griffin’s Crosswords and Twentieth’s Temptation -- each were unchanged at a 0.7 and 0.4, respectively.

The rookie off-net sitcoms --Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men and Twentieth’s Family Guy -- continued to lead the pack, with Men at a 5.0, down 4%, and Guy at a 4.1, down 5%. The veterans -- Sony’s Seinfeld and CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond -- each were flat at a 3.7 and 3.3, respectively. Warner Bros.’ newcomer, George Lopez, jumped 3% to a 3.2, followed by Sony’s King of Queens, which dropped 4% to a 2.7. Warner Bros.’ Friends was flat at a 2.6.

Following Friends, Twentieth’s King of the Hill was up 5% to a 2.2. Warner Bros.’ Sex and the City also was up 5% to a 2.0. CBS’ Frasier was at a 1.9, down 5%. And Carsey-Werner’s That 70s Show finished at a 1.8, up 6%.

Paige Albiniak
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.