Syndication Ratings: Shows Stall as Viewers Switch to Election Coverage

The much-covered election took its toll on syndies as the November sweep, running Oct. 27 through Nov. 23, hit its midpoint in the week ended Nov. 13. Ratings for most shows were negatively impacted by preemptions, time-period shifts and viewers choosing to instead watch cable news channels.

On the other hand, clocks were rolled back in that week, making days shorter and colder, which tends to affect TV ratings positively.

CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil led the talk field by a full point with a 3.5 live plus same day national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, a 3% dip for the week but a 3% improvement for the year. That made Dr. Phil one of only two shows in talk to outperform last November with the other being Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen. Dr. Phil also led the field among women 25-54 at a 1.7.

Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres finished neck-and-neck for second place for the second straight week, with both programs climbing 4% for the week, but sliding 7% for the year to a 2.5.

Live scored its best day of the season the day after the election when ratings ratcheted up 25% from the prior week after Election Day to a 3.0 on Nov. 9, with guest cohost Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. Live matched its season high week with the week’s 2.5 household average. Ellen’s 2.5 marked a new season high. 

In fourth place, NBCU’s Steve Harvey, which will end after this season with host Steve Harvey launching a new talk show out of Los Angeles, recovered 6% to a 1.7, down 11% from last year at this time.

Meanwhile, NBCU’s Maury and Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams were tied for fifth place, with Maury unchanged at a 1.5 but skidding 12% from the same week last November and Wendy gaining 7% to a 1.5, but declining 17% from last year. NBCU’s Steve Wilkos rose 8% to a new season high 1.4 and was unchanged from last year.  CTD’s Rachael Ray retreated 7% for both the week and the year to a 1.3, tying NBCU’s JerrySpringer and SPT’s Dr. Oz, both of which added 8% for the week and flat for the year.

NBCU’s newcomer Harry, starring Harry Connick Jr., held steady at a 1.2 in its ninth outing. 

CTD’s The Doctors remained at a 0.9, off 10% from last year, while Warner Bros.’ TheReal was flat at a 0.8, down 27% from last year at this time.

Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud rebounded 6% to lead the games at a 6.8, up 3% from last year. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune inched ahead 2% to a 6.1 but fell 10% for the year. CTD’s Jeopardy! was flat at a 5.8, but down 9% for the year. 

Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire stayed at a 1.6 for a fourth straight week, up 23% from last year. Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game rebounded 8% to a 1.3 and was unchanged for the year.

Disney-ABC’s viral video show, RightThisMinute, which moved this season to ABC-owned stations and affiliates in many markets,added 7% for the week and 36% for the year to a 1.5. 

CTD’s Judge Judy fell back 3% for the week and 5% from last year to a 7.1 but remained the highest-rated strip in overall syndication for the 15th week in a row. 

CTD’s Hot Bench dipped 4% for the week to a 2.4 and was even with last year.  

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court climbed 6% to a 1.7 but fell 11% from last year. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis remained at a 1.3 for the tenth consecutive week but tumbled 13% from last year. Twentieth’s Divorce Court was unchanged at a 1.0 for a seventh straight week and down 29% from last year. Trifecta’s Judge Faith stayed at a 0.8 for the third consecutive week and dropped 11% from last year. 

None of the magazines improved from last year. CTD’s Entertainment Tonight led the field at a 3.2, down 6% for the week and 3% for the year. CTD’s Inside Edition picked up 7% to a new season-high 3.0, unchanged from last year. Warner Bros.’ TMZ stood pat at a 1.6 but sagged 11% from the same week last November. NBCU’s Access Hollywood added 8% from its season low in the prior week to a 1.4, down 13% from last year. Warner Bros.’ Extra — which was preempted heavily on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday leading up to the election—gave back 13% for the week and 7% for the year to a 1.4. CTD’s The Insider yielded 17% to a 1.0 and declined 9% year to year. 

Twentieth’s Dish Nation stood pat at a 0.8 but dropped 20% from last year. Trifecta’s Celebrity Page stood pat at its standard 0.3 for the 33rd week in a row.

As daylight savings time came to an end, Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory warmed up 8% to a new season-high 5.3 but lost 15% from last year. Twentieth’s Modern Family forged ahead 4% to a 2.7 but fell 23% for the year. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men edged up 4% to a new season-high 2.4 but eroded 11% from last year. Twentieth’s Family Guy fell 5% to a 1.9 and faded 14% for the year. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly moved up 6% to a 1.8 but faltered 14% from the same week last November. Twentieth’s newcomer Last Man Standing strengthened 6% to a new season-high 1.8, tying Mike & Molly for fifth place. 

Warner Bros.’ Two Broke Girls remained at a 1.7 but fell back 15% for the year. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother said hello to an 8% improvement to a 1.3 but waved good-bye to 28% of its ratings from last year. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show was unchanged at a 1.3, tying Mother but weakened 13% compared to last year. Twentieth’s King of the Hill was flat at a 1.2 and down 14% for the year. SPT’s Seinfeld stayed at a 1.2 for the sixth straight week, down 33% from the same week last year, the biggest annual shrinkage out of the off-net sitcoms’ top 11.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for The Global Entertainment Marketing Academy of Arts & Sciences (G.E.M.A.). 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.