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Syndication Ratings: Steady in Face of Olympics

Week-to-week ratings for syndicated strips settled down in week two of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games after many shows took hits in the Games’ first week.

At the end of its annual two-week production hiatus -- meaning that the usually fresh show was in repeats -- and facing the Olympics, Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly had the biggest decline in syndication in the week ended Aug. 24.

Regis and Kelly dropped 17% to a 2.0 live-plus-same-day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. That marked the series’ lowest rating since Nielsen began maintaining its current database in 1991. In the prior week, Regis and Kelly fell 11%, dropping it 26% over the last two weeks.

Compared with the same week last year, Regis and Kelly had the third-largest decline among talk shows after CBS’ Montel Williams, which fell off 36% year-to-year and is not returning to first-run, and NBC Universal’s Jerry Springer, which declined 27%.

As for the other talkers, CBS’ Oprah, prepping for its Sept. 8 premiere featuring Olympic gold medalists Kobe Bryant and Michael Phelps (,was up 5% to a 4.1. CBS’ Dr. Phil -- who appeared on NBC’s Today this week talking about the teen-age pregnancy of Bristol Palin -- held steady at a 3.2.

The rest of the talkers were down or flat. NBCU’s Maury slipped 5% to a 1.8. CBS’ Rachael Ray and Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres each dipped 6% to a 1.5. Springer and Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks were each unchanged at a 1.1 and 1.0, respectively. Montel fell 10% to a new season-low 0.9, tying the rookies, Twentieth Television’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet and NBCU’s Steve Wilkos, which each held firm. Nielsen broke out the ratings for NBCU’s Martha Stewart due to Olympics coverage.

Twentieth’s Divorce Court saw the only increase out of the returning court shows, gaining 7% to a 1.6. Almost all of the other courts held steady with the prior week.

CBS’ leader, Judge Judy, remained far ahead, unchanged at a 4.3, and was the highest-rated show in daytime syndication for the 11th straight week. CBS’ Judge Joe Brown, Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis, Twentieth’s Judge Alex, Sony’s Judge Hatchett, Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court and Sony’s Judge David Young all were unchanged at a 2.3, 2.1, 1.7, 1.5, 1.1, 1.1 and 0.8, respectively. Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez, which will not return to first-run syndication, climbed 14% to a 0.8. Radar Entertainment’s Jury Duty was unchanged at a 0.2.

Game shows were little-changed. Disney-ABC’s Wheel of Fortune inched up 2% to a 6.1. CBS’ Jeopardy! eased up 2% to a 5.1. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, entering its seventh season with host Meredith Vieira, was unchanged at its season-low 2.4. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud and Twentieth’s Temptation -- which is also going off the schedule -- each were flat at a 1.6 and 0.4, respectively. Program Partners’ Merv Griffin’s Crosswords was broken out all week due to the Olympics.

CBS’ Entertainment Tonight continued to lead the magazines, holding steady at a 3.6. CBS’ Inside Edition remained in second place at an unchanged 2.6. NBCU’s Access Hollywood fell 10% to a 1.9. CBS’ The Insider and Warner Bros.’ rookie TMZ each were flat at a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ Extra -- which was pre-empted all week in six of the top 50 markets and bumped into weaker time slots in other cities due to the Olympics -- remained at its series-low 1.3.

Finally, the off-net sitcoms recovered a bit. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men rose 2% to a 4.3. Twentieth’s Family Guy gained 5% to a 3.9. Sony’s Seinfeld rose 3% to a 3.1. CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond and Warner Bros.’ George Lopez each climbed 4% to a 2.8. Sony’s King of Queens was flat at a 2.5, while Warner Bros.’ Friends fell 4% to a 2.4.