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Syndication Ratings: Season Lows the Norm as Spring Starts and March Madness Prevails

The start of spring, daylight saving time and warmer weather resulted in less people watching television in the week ending March 26, and many of those that were watching were tuned into the annual NCAA basketball tournament. Basketball preemptions also were acute for shows heavily cleared on CBS affiliates and all of the above depressed ratings across the board for syndicated shows.

The only top-tier daytime show to improve during the week was CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, even though the talker was in repeats on three of the five days.

Phil led the talk shows for the 29th week in a row with a 3.1 live plus same day national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Phil was up 3% for the week and 15% from the same week last year and was the only daytime show in the top ten to be up from last year. Phil also was tops in talk among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54 at a 1.4.

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Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly was on hiatus for the week, with one taped episode and four repackaged ones. Live fell 4% for the week but managed to hang on to second place among the talkers at a 2.2 in households. In third, Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres slipped 5% for the week to a 2.1.

NBCU’s Maury moved up to fourth place with a steady 1.6, while NBCU’s Steve Harvey suffered the largest weekly decline in talk, losing 18% to a 1.4 and matching its season low. Next season, Harvey, which also dropped 22% from last year at this time, will relocate to Los Angeles and relaunch with a different production company.

NBCU’s Steve Wilkos added 8% to a 1.4, tying both Harvey and Debmar-Mercury’s WendyWilliams, which weakened 7% for the week. NBCU’s Jerry Springer was flat at a 1.3. CTD’s Rachael Ray matched its season-low 1.2, sinking 8% for the week and 20% from last year.

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Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz fell to its lowest rating ever, deteriorating 15% for the week and 21% from last year to a 1.1. Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily With Chris Hansen gave back 9% to a 1.0, tying NBCU’s newcomer Harry, which also fell 9% and was in repeats for part of the week.

CTD’s The Doctors, also in repeats for part of the week, declined 11% to a 0.8, tying Warner Bros.’ The Real, which retreated 11%.

None of the court shows improved.

CTD’s Judge Judy, in repeats, lost the least, dipping 2% to a 6.2. CTD’s Hot Bench, also in reruns, eased 4% to a 2.2. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court slumped 12% to a 1.5. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis pulled back 8% to a 1.2. Twentieth’s Divorce Court shrank 9% to a 1.0. Trifecta’s Judge Faith fell 13% to a 0.7.

Similarly, none of the magazines could claim gains either.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight backtracked 9% to a 3.1 but still topped the category for the 35th week in a row. CTD’s Inside Edition remained at a season-low 2.6 for a second straight week. Warner Bros.’ TMZ faded 6% to a 1.5. NBCU’s Access Hollywood and Warner Bros.’ Extra each were even at a 1.4 and 1.2, respectively. CTD’sThe Insider, which was heavily preempted by basketball, relinquished 18% to a new season-low 0.9. Twentieth’s Dish Nation lost 13% to a 0.7. Trifecta’s Celebrity Page posted its usual 0.3 for the 12th straight week.

Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud made it 48 weeks at the top of the game shows, and, although it slipped 6% for the week to a 6.5, it also lead all of syndication. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune fell 3% to a 5.6, matching its season low and remaining tied with Jeopardy!, which also softened 3%. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, in repeats, depreciated 17% to a 1.5, equaling its season low. Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, which will end after this season, deteriorated 8% to a 1.2, matching its season low.

Disney-ABC’s viral video show RightThisMinute was minus 7% to a 1.4.

Off-net sitcoms, like most else in syndication, were flat to down. Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory and Twentieth’s Modern Family both were unchanged at a 5.1 and 2.8, respectively. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men moved 4% lower to a 2.5. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly, Twentieth’s Family Guy and Twentieth’s rookie Last Man Standing all fell 6% to a 1.7. Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls also gave back 6% to a 1.6. SPT’s Seinfeld stumbled 8% to a 1.2. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother moved down 15% to 1.1, matching its series low and tying Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show and King of the Hill, both of which were flat.

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.