Syndication Ratings: ‘Oprah’ Leads Talkers Through Sweeps But Down 4% From ‘08

The national November sweep ratings are in and most of syndication flashed signs of growth or at least stemmed the severe audience erosion of recent years. CBS Television Distribution’s (CTD) Oprah, which juiced her numbers with shows featuring a woman whose face had been horribly mutilated by a chimpanzee and a chat with Sarah Palin led the talkers with a 5.4 average for the Oct. 29-Nov. 25 ratings period.  Although that was still down 4% from last November, Oprah’s decline was less than her 11% slide from November 2008 compared to November 2007.

The talk show with the biggest year-to-year improvement was CTD’s The Doctors, which scored a 2.0 and grew 18% from November 2008, which was the largest household rating increase of anything in syndication. CTD’s Dr. Phil was down 14% to a 3.1 although that slippage was far less than his 29% loss in the last November sweep.  In addition, Phil finished the book with a bang, scoring a new season-high 3.2 in the final sweep week ending Nov. 29.  Disney/ABC’s Live With Regis and Kelly declined 4% to 2.7. Warner Bros.’ Ellen Degeneres held steady at 2.4.  NBCU’s Maury was up 5% to 2.0. CTD’s Rachael Ray slipped 5% to 1.8. NBCU’s Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos each gained 9% to 1.2.  Warner Bros.’ Bonnie Hunt dropped 11% to 0.8. The show will fold at the end of this season. NBCU’s Martha Stewart was off 14% to 0.6 although she cooked up a new season-high 0.7 in the final week.  

Court shows were nearly on par with last November although CTD’s Judge Judy was the only show to actually outperform last year. Judy swamped the field, climbing 2% to 4.6, which topped her nearest competitor by 119%.  CTD’s Judge Joe Brown was down 9% to 2.1, in second place.  Warner Bros.’ People’s Court fell 5% to 2.0.  Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis lost 11% to 1.6. Twentieth’s Judge Alex slid 6% to 1.5.  Twentieth’s Divorce Court eroded 7% to 1.4.  Warner Bros.’ Judge Jeannine Pirro, which was not syndicated last year, trailed with a 1.0 average.  

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight won the magazine race for the 77th consecutive sweep. It last lost in July 1990. ET was up 2% from last November to a 4.6. CTD’s Inside Edition added 7% to 3.2. NBCU’s Access Hollywood had the sharpest increase, climbing 11% to 2.1, while Warner Bros.’ TMZ had the biggest decline, skidding 10% to 1.9. Close behind, CTD’s The Insider and Warner Bros.’ Extra tied at a 1.8 with the former dipping 5% and the latter gaining 6%.

Game shows had mixed results. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune was down 3% to 7.3.  CTD’s Jeopardy inched up 2% to 6.1.  Disney/ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire advanced 4% to 2.6. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud tumbled 13% to 1.3.  NBCU’s Deal Or No Deal nose-dived 33% to 1.2.  

Among the newest syndication entries, NBCU’s The Office had the hottest November, averaging a 3.0 in households for its first sweep and tallying the second highest women 18-34 rating, a 2.7, of any show in syndication, behind only the animated Family Guy. The next closest laughers were CTD’s Everybody Hates Chris and Twentieth’s My Name Is Earl, each with a 1.9 household rating. Sony’s Dr. Oz earned a 2.6 in first run, followed by Twentieth’s Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader at 1.7, Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams at 1.2 and Litton’s Street Court with a 0.6.

Most of the veteran off-net sitcoms lost some ground but in the top tier, Sony’s Seinfeld was especially weak, tumbling 25% to a third place 2.7. Leader Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men was down 2% to 5.1. Twentieth’s Family Guy erased 17% of its ratings down to 3.5. CTD’s Everybody Loves Raymond faded 19% to 2.6.  Warner Bros.’ George Lopez was down 10% to 2.6. Twentieth’s King of the Hill was up 10% to 2.2.  Warner Bros.’ Friends fell 19% to 2.1.  House of Payne depreciated 10% to a 1.9. Sony’s King of Queens plunged 38% to 1.6. CTD’s Frasier was down 21% to 1.5. On the weekend, the high-profile scripted hour Legend of the Seeker plummeted 38% from last November to 1.5.