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Syndication Ratings: Rookies Are Sweeps Stand-Outs

While audience fragmentation continued to lower year-to-year ratings, rookie shows were the top performers in the sweeps which ran from Apr. 23-May 20. Leader, CTD's The Doctors was the highest-rated new strip in first run averaging a 1.8 nationally for the sweep, up 38% from its debut week last September. In the 56 overnight markets, Doctors grew 18% from both its lead in and year-ago time period averages with a 2.0/6, and was the no. 1 or no. 2 show in its time slot in 26 metered cities.

NBCU's Deal Or No Deal took second with a 1.5 average, down 6% from its September premiere, though it did well in the metered markets. In New York, Deal was up 27% from last May's time period average. Warner Bros.' Bonnie Hunt rose 13% from its opening week to 0.9. Sony's Judge Karen tumbled 27% to 0.8. Debmar-Mercury's Trivial Pursuit was even with its debut at 0.6. Program Partners' Family Court was hit with a 33% decline, down to 0.4.

Among the established strips, CTD's Judge Judy was the winner of the court show race, averaging a 4.1., down 15% from last May. CTD's Judge Joe Brown was second with a 2.1 average, down 19% from last year but rose 40% in New York. Warner Bros' People's Court dropped 22% to 1.8. Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis fell 21% to 1.5. Twentieth's Judge Alex lost 18% to 1.4. Twentieth's Divorce Court slipped 24% to 1.3, although it had triple digit year-to-year gains in some markets such as Los Angeles, where it was up 100% from last May. Twentieth's Christina's Court declined 18% to 0.9. Sony's Judge David Young was off 13% to 0.7.

CTD's Oprah was down 5% to a 5.2 but still led the talkers. Dr. Phil (CTD) was second with a 3.0, falling 32% from last year, though the show was up 40% from its lead-in average in metered markets. Disney/ABC's Live With Regis and Kelly was flat at 2.6. Warner Bros.' Ellen held steady with a 2.1 May average and rose 35% from its lead-ins in metered markets. NBCU's Maury dropped 11% from last year to 1.7. CTD's Rachael Ray slipped 6% to 1.7 however it was up 29% from last May in New York to a 3.1/11. NBCU's Steve Wilkos moved up 10% to 1.1. Jerry Springer (NBCU) was unchanged at 1.1. Warner Bros.' Tyra Banks had a 1.0 average which was down 9% in households but up 50% from last year in its target demo of W18-34 in the LPM markets, including a 400% increase in Los Angeles. Twentieth's The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet averaged 0.8, off 20% nationally but was up in a number of metered markets. NBCU's Martha Stewart cooked up a 0.7, 22% decline nationally, but rose 200% in New York.

Game shows were all down, with CTD's Wheel of Fortune sliding 10% to 6.4, CTD's Jeopardy dropping 10% to 5.4, Disney/ABC's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire falling 18% to 2.3, and Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud fizzling 18% to 1.4.

CTD's Entertainment Tonight kept its long winning streak in tact, taking the magazine race for the 75th consecutive sweeps, dating back to 1990. ET clocked a 4.2 average, losing 2% from last year. CTD's Inside Edition was unchanged at 3.0. Warner Bros.' TMZ was down 5% to 2.1. NBCU's Access Hollywood lost 5% to 2.0. The Insider (NBCU) slipped 19% to 1.7. Warner Bros.' Extra declined 11% to 1.6.

Among the off-net sitcoms, Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men was down 10% to 4.6. Twentieth's Family Guy slipped 12% to 3.7. Sony's Seinfeld declined 13% to 3.3. CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond lost 12% to 2.9. Warner Bros.' George Lopez was down 13% to 2.7. Twentieth's King of the Hill bucked the trend and was up 24% to 2.6. Sony's King of Queens fell 18% to 2.3. Warner Bros.' Friends dropped 15% to 2.2.