Syndication Ratings: Rookie Race Opens Tight

This year’s rookies opened their seasons in a tight race in the week ended Sept. 20.

Disney-ABC’s FABLife and Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily, both of which premiered on Sept. 14, tied at a 0.8 live plus same day national rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. FABLife is cleared in 85% of the country, while Crime Watch Daily is cleared in 92%.

This year’s third new national entry, NBCUniversal’s Crazy Talk, a comedic talk strip largely cleared on independent stations, checked in with a 0.6. Crazy Talk is cleared in 93% of the country.

Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Crime Watch Daily led with a 0.6, followed by FABLife with a 0.5 and Crazy Talk with a 0.4.

CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil opened its 14th season with a 15% gain from the prior week to lead the talkers with a 3.1. This marked the show’s highest rating since the week of May 18, and the 30th time in the past 36 weeks that Phil has been the top talker, including ties. Phil also led among women 25-54, gaining 23% for the week to a 1.6.

Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael was steady for the week at a 2.7, matching its debut week, which was a three-year season premiere high for the show. Live premiered on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7.

Rounding out the top three was Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres, which dropped 12% from its premiere week, which featured Caitlyn Jenner and Hillary Clinton, to a 2.3.

NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey, in the second week of its new season, and Maury, which didn’t premiere until Sept. 21, tied for fourth place with each show slipping 6% to a 1.7.

Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams debuted season eight with a 1.5, up 36% over the previous week when the show was in repeats.

Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz premiered its seventh season with an 8% gain from the prior week to a 1.3, tying CTD’s Rachael Ray’s 10th-season premiere, steady for the week. NBCU’s Steve Wilkos and Jerry Springer, both of which wrapped up their seasons during the week, each eased 8% to a 1.2.

Warner Bros.’ The Real rallied 38% to a 1.1 with its second-season opener, fueled by the appearance of Bobby Brown talking about the death of his daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown. NBCU’s Meredith Vieira, in week two of season two, and CTD’s The Doctors, which debuted season eight, both were flat at a 0.9.

Elsewhere in daytime, CTD’s Judge Judy remained the syndication leader for the 13th week in a row, opening season 20 with a 4% dip to a 6.6.

CTD’s Hot Bench returned for season two and was the only court show to improve for the week with a 11% jump to a 2.0, a 54% gain from the show’s series premiere last year at this time when the show was cleared on independent stations in top markets. Last March, Hot Bench moved to stronger CBS-owned stations in many large markets.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court eroded 11% to a 1.6. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis sagged 7% to a 1.4. Twentieth’s Divorce Court weakened 14% to a 1.2. MGM’s Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court fell 9% to a 1.0. Trifecta’s Judge Faith faded 13% to a 0.7.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight and CTD’s Inside Edition remained tied to lead the magazines with each show growing 4% to a 2.8. Warner Bros.’ TMZ was flat at a 1.7. NBCU’s Access Hollywood slipped 6% to a 1.5. Warner Bros.’ Extra, CTD’s The Insider, Twentieth’s Dish Nation and Trifecta’s OK! TV all held steady at a 1.4, 1.1, 0.9 and 0.3, respectively.

CTD’s Wheel of Fortune inched up 2% to lead the games with a 5.8 in its season 33 premiere. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud — summer’s hottest game, topping the genre 11 times in the past 15 weeks — ticked down 3% to a second-place 5.6 for its season 17 premiere. CTD’s Jeopardy! opened season 32 with a flat 5.5.

Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire dropped 25% to an all-time series low 1.2 as it kicked off season 14 with new host Chris Harrison, who follows one-year hosting stints by Terry Crews and Cedric the Entertainer. The show was downgraded at the start of this season on WABC New York to 1:35 am (and also airs in double-runs on WLNY New York at 4 p.m.) to make room for FABLife.

Compared to last year at this time, Feud was the only game to gain, growing 10%. Wheel was off 8%, Jeopardy! was down 10% and Millionaire declined by 37%. Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, wrapping up its rookie season, slid 17% to a 1.0.

MGM’s viral video show RightThisMinute, which moved off of Fox stations in major markets, fell 29% to a 1.0.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory heated up 4% to a 5.4 to lead the off-net sitcoms. Twentieth’s Modern Family slipped 3% to a 3.2. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men moved 4% lower to a 2.7. Twentieth’s Family Guy gained 5% to a 2.2. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly shrank 5% to a 2.0. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother sagged 6% to a 1.7, tying SPT’s Seinfeld and Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show, both of which were flat. Twentieth’s King of the Hill was flat at a 1.4 and Warner Bros.’ The Middle slumped 27% to a 1.1.

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.