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Syndication Ratings: Sports Preemptions Drive Shows to New Lows

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup ran over virtually everything in syndication in the week ended June 16, causing many shows to drop to season and series lows.

CBS Television Distribution’s Hot Bench was the sole gainer in first-run syndication, adding 5% to a 2.2 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, and ranking as the third-highest daytime strip behind only CTD’s court leader Judge Judy and talk leader Dr. Phil.

Everything else in first-run syndication was flat to down with several series hitting new season and series lows as the soccer tournament caused massive preemptions on Fox stations on four out of five days and created stronger than usual competition. The World Cup, along with games five and six of the NBA championships between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors, and game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues.

In addition, shows were bumped in top market New York on June 10 for news coverage of a fatal helicopter crash in Manhattan.

Against this backdrop of heavy preemptions, many shows -- including Hot Bench -- were partially or completely in reruns.

In access, the spotlight was on the first full week without trivia savant James Holzhauer, leaving CTD’s Jeopardy! with no answer for Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud, which returned to the top of the game pack. Feud held steady at a 6.1, elbowing aside Jeopardy!, which dropped 15% to a 5.8. That marked the first time Jeopardy! has been out of the game lead since the week of March 31.

Jeopardy!’s weekly ratings with Holzhauer peaked in the week ended May 5 at a 14-year high weekly household ratings average of 8.3, although the individual day rating for the superstar contestant’s stunning defeat on June 3 was a stratospheric 9.0.

Related: Syndication Ratings: James Holzhauer Loss Leads to Jeopardy! Win

Rounding out the game show category, CTD’s Wheel of Fortune faded 9% to a new season-low 5.2. Further back, Disney’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which will end its 17-year run after this season, remained at its season-low 1.5 for a third consecutive week. Entertainment Studios’ Funny You Should Ask was flat at a 0.5 for the 14th straight week.

Meanwhile, Disney’s viral video show RightThisMinute moved down 8% to a 1.1.

Magazines were mostly on par with the prior week against the strong sports competition. CTD’s Inside Edition eased 4% to a 2.6, matching its season low. CTD’s Entertainment Tonight came right behind at an unchanged 2.5. NBCU’s Access held its ground at a 1.1, to take third place, breaking a tie with Warner Bros.’ TMZ, which tumbled 25% to a new series-low 0.9 due to preemptions across the Fox stations for World Cup coverage. Warner Bros.’ Extra and CTD’s DailyMailTV both delivered a steady 0.9, tying TMZ for fourth place.

Twentieth’s Page Six TV, which lost key time periods due to RuPaul’s three-week talk tryout, slipped 17% to a new series-low 0.5. Trifecta’s Celebrity Page was unchanged at a 0.2.

Speaking of RuPaul, the second full week of the daily test talker averaged a 0.5 rating/1 share weighted metered market rating in households, down 17% from its lead-in and even with its year-ago time periods. Among women 25-54, the second week averaged a 0.2/1, off 33% from both lead-ins and June 2018 time periods.

Back in national households, none of the talkers improved on the week. Phil aired repeats on all five days and slipped 4% to a 2.3, but still managed to lead the group for a 145th straight week with five ties. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Phil also led with a 0.9.

Disney’s Live with Kelly and Ryan receded 5% to a new season-low 2.0, but still ranked as talk’s second-highest rated show for the 16th straight week.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres declined 5%, even with a week of all originals, to a 1.8. NBCU’s Maury stayed at its season-low 1.2 for the second week in a row. Also airing encore episodes for part of the week was NBC’s Steve, which is nearing the end of its run. The talker starring Steve Harvey gave back 9% to fall to a new season-low 1.0.

NBCU’s Steve Wilkos sagged 10% to a new season-low 0.9, tying CTD’s Rachael Ray, which held steady.

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Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz descended 11% to a new series-low 0.8, tying reruns of Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, which were retitled as Wendy Williams World Cup, and slumped 20%. Retitling the show means the week’s average won’t count in its overall season ratings average.

Warner Bros.’ The Real registered a series-low 0.5 for a second straight week, tying CTD’s TheDoctors, which remained at its series low for a fifth straight week. Disney’s Pickler & Ben stayed at a 0.4 for the 21st consecutive week, tying NBCU’s out-of-production Jerry Springer, the syndication run of which held steady for the 40th week in a row.

Among the rookies, CTD’s soon-to-conclude Face the Truth fell 14% to a new season-low 0.6, while Debmar-Mercury’s freshman court show Caught in Providence lost 20% to a new season-low 0.4.

Judge Judy was heavily preempted and slipped 17% to a new season-low 5.4. Following the aforementioned Hot Bench, Warner Bros.’ People’s Court sank 20% to a new season-low 1.2. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis eroded 11% to a new series-low 0.8. Twentieth’s Divorce Court dropped 17% to a new series-low 0.5.

NBCU’s Dateline backtracked 8% to a 1.2 but led the field for a 40th straight week. SPT’s off-A&E Live PD Police Patrol skidded 11% to a new season-high 0.8. Off-Investigation Discovery’s True Crime Files was unchanged at a 0.3.

Syndication’s lone off-net scripted strip, NBCU’s Chicago PD, posted a steady 0.9.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory dipped 2% to a 4.0 to lead the off-net sitcoms. Twentieth’s Last Man Standing slid 5% to a 2.1, while its Modern Family was flat at a 1.7. SPT’s TheGoldbergs stayed at a 1.4. Twentieth’s Family Guy stood pat at a 1.3 for the fifth straight week. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men dropped 8% to a new series-low 1.2. Disney’s Black-ish broke even at a 1.1. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly softened 9% to a 1.0. SPT’s Seinfeld retreated 10% to a 0.9, tying Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls, which weakened 10%, and Warner Bros.’ Mom, which held steady for an eighth straight week. 

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.