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Syndication Ratings: 'Phil' Stays on Top, But 'Ellen' Ties Best Rating in Ten Years

News coverage of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14 caused Nielsen to break out ratings for many daytime and access strips that Friday. Even though four-day averages were the norm, syndies -- and especially talk shows and magazines -- held up in the week ended Dec. 16.

CBS Television Distribution's Dr. Phil remained syndication's top talker, improving 3% from both the prior week and year to a 3.1 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Warner Bros.' Ellen took second for the fifth week in a row at a 2.9, tying the show's highest rating in its ten-year history, up 4% for the week. Ellen also notched the largest year-to-year gain of any talk show, climbing 12% from the same week last year.

In third place, Disney-ABC's Live! with Kelly and Michael rose 4% for the week to a 2.6. Sony's Dr. Oz came in fourth at a steady 2.4. NBCUniversal's Maury also was flat at a 2.2. CTD's Rachael Ray remained at a 1.4, tying NBC's conflict talkers Steve Wilkos and Jerry Springer, each of which grew 8%.

CTD's The Doctors also advanced 8% to a 1.3. Warner Bros.' Anderson Live showed some spark, hitting a new season-high 1.2, and surging 20% for the week. Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams was flat at a 1.1, while Jeremy Kyle added a tenth or 20% to a 0.6. Jeremy Kyle, like Anderson Live!, will end its run after this season.

Among the rookie talkers, Disney-ABC's Katie was steady for the week at a 1.8. NBCU's Steve Harvey improved 8% to a 1.4, even though it was partially in repeats. CTD's Jeff Probst was flat at a 0.7, while Twentieth's Ricki Lake dropped 14% to a new series-low 0.6, the only talk show out of 17 to decline for the week. NBCU's Trisha, meanwhile, grew 25% to a 0.5, up one-tenth of a ratings point.

Elsewhere in daytime, CTD's Judge Judy climbed 4% for the week to a 7.0. CTD's Judge Joe Brown eased 4% to a second-place 2.3. Warner Bros.' People's Court and Judge Mathis both were flat at a 1.8 and 1.5, respectively. Twentieth's Divorce Court gained 17% to a 1.4, while Judge Alex was flat at a 1.3. Entertainment Studios' America's Court advanced 14% to a 0.8, while ES' freshman, Justice for All, and sophomore, We the People, both were flat at a 0.4 and 0.2, respectively.

In access, CTD's Entertainment Tonight led the magazines with a 3.9, up 3% from the prior week and 5% from last year at this time. CTD's Inside Edition posted a 3.3, up 6%. NBCU's Access Hollywood matched its season high, adding 6% to a 1.9, tying Warner Bros.' TMZ, which also gained 6%. Warner Bros.' Extra had the largest percentage increase of any veteran magazine, improving 7% to a 1.6 and equaling its best rating of the season. CTD's The Insider, about to be rebranded as omg! Insider, held firm at a 1.5, while Twentieth's newcomer, Dish Nation, picked up 11% to a 1.0.

CTD's veteran game show, Wheel of Fortune, accelerated 3% from the prior week, to top the syndie charts at a 7.4. CTD's Jeopardy! upticked 2% to a 6.6. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud was flat at a 4.6, while Disney-ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire declined 4% to a 2.3. NBCU's rookie, Baggage, gained 9% to a 1.2.

Top off-net sitcom, Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory, was flat for the week at a 7.3, but still good enough for second place in overall syndication. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men edged up 4% to a 5.4. Twentieth's Family Guy gained 3% to a 3.8. Twentieth's How I Met Your Mother and Sony's Seinfeld both were steady at a 2.8 and 2.4, respectively. Twentieth's King of the Hill climbed 5% to a new season-high 2.3. Warner Bros.' Friends was flat at a 2.1, and CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond rose 5% to a 2.0.