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Syndication Ratings: Photo Finish for 'Katie' and 'Steve Harvey' in Sweeps' Third Week

Katie Couric and Steve Harvey were neck and neck at the end of the May sweep's third week, with Disney-ABC's Katie looking like it would secure the household win while NBCUniversal's Steve Harvey would clutch the demo victory. The two talkers, both of which are closing out their rookie seasons, were the only two talk shows out of 18 to grow in the week ended May 19.

Katie added 6% for the week to a 1.7, just barely topping Steve Harvey, which grew 7% to a 1.6. Among daytime's key demographic of women 25-54, however, the situation was reversed, with Harvey topping Katie for the seventh time in the past nine weeks (including two ties). Harvey climbed 11% to a 1.0 in the demo, while Katie added 13% to a 0.9.

NBCU's Trisha -- which, like Katie and Steve, will return for a sophomore season -- fell 17% to a 0.5 in households. CTD's Jeff Probst and Twentieth's Ricki Lake, neither of which will return, each were flat at a 0.6.

At the top of the talk ladder, CTD's Dr. Phil held steady at a 2.9 in households while gaining 12% among women 25-54 to lead talk at a 1.9.

While talk's first-place finisher for the sweep is not in doubt, competition for second place looks like it will end in a photo finish. For the week, Disney-ABC's Live! with Kelly and Michael and Warner Bros.' Ellen tied at a 2.4, with Live! dipping 8% and Ellen easing 4%. With only a few days left, the two shows are virtually tied, with Live! leading by a slight margin in households, but Ellen wrangling more total viewers.

Sony Pictures Television's recently renewed Dr. Oz hit a new season low 2.1, declining 5% for the week.

NBCU's Maury, CTD's Rachael Ray, NBCU's Steve Wilkos and Jerry Springer, Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams and CTD's The Doctors all held firm at a 2.0, 1.4, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3 and 1.2, respectively.

Warner Bros.' Anderson Live and Debmar-Mercury's Jeremy Kyle, both of which are ending their runs, followed the field at a 0.8, down 20%, and a flat 0.4, respectively, while Meredith's The Better Show fell 50%, or one-tenth of a ratings point, to a new season low 0.1.

CTD's courtroom champion, Judge Judy, appears to be on its way to winning the May sweep, finishing atop the overall syndication leader board for the third straight week, with a 1% dip to a 6.6. CTD's Judge Joe Brown, which will fade out at the end of this season, sank 9% to a 2.1. Warner Bros.' People's Court and Judge Mathis were flat at a 1.7 and 1.4, respectively. Twentieth's Judge Alex slid 7% to a 1.4, tying Mathis. Twentieth's Divorce Court dropped 8% to a 1.2. Entertainment Studios' America's Court faded 14% to a 0.6, while ES' Justice for All and We the People were unchanged at a 0.4 and 0.2, respectively.

In access, the only veteran magazine strip to show growth was Warner Bros.' TMZ, which advanced 5% for both the week and the year to a 2.0. However, Twentieth's freshman Dish Nation increased 10% to a 1.1.

CTD's Entertainment Tonight was steady in the lead at a 3.5, followed by CTD's Inside Edition, which eroded 10% to a 2.7, that show's lowest rating in 20 weeks. NBCU's Access Hollywood slipped 6% to a 1.6. Warner Bros.' Extra, the only magazine to improve in the prior session, gave back 7% to a 1.4, tying CTD's omg! Insider, which was steady.

Game show leader Wheel of Fortune skidded 3% from the prior week to a new season low 6.1. CTD's Jeopardy! inched up 2% to a 5.9. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud finished 2% lower at a 4.4. Disney-ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire earned a 2.4, even with the prior week, while NBCU's rookie Baggage packed an additional 10% to a 1.1.

In the metered markets, Warner Bros.' new interactive game show, Let's Ask America, was flat at a 1.6 rating/4 share in households and spiked 29% among women 25-54 to a 0.9 rating/3 share.

In off-net syndication, Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory declined 2% from the prior week to a 6.4 to take second place in overall syndication behind Judge Judy. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men also sagged 2% to a 4.5.

Twentieth's Family Guy gained 9% to a 3.7, while Twentieth's How I Met Your Mother was unchanged at a 2.4. Twentieth's King of the Hill rose 10% to a 2.3. SPT's Seinfeld added 5% to a 2.1. Warner Bros.' Friends was flat at a 2.0. CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond rallied 6% to a 1.8.