Syndication Ratings: At Syndie Season's End, 'Phil,' 'Judy,' 'ET,' 'Wheel,' 'Big Bang' on Top

Nielsen's 2012-13 syndication season officially came to an end in the generally sleepy summer week ending August 25, which included the third week of the Time Warner Cable-CBS blackout, widespread repeats and declining levels of people using television (PUT).

In fact, only one of the 14 talk shows managed to climb from the prior week: CBS Television Distribution's leader Dr. Phil, which rose 13% for the week and 17% from last year at this time to a first-place 2.7, according to Nielsen Media Research. Looking at the entire season, Phil was tops in total viewers, households and women 25-54 for the second straight year. In households, Phil averaged a 3.0 rating for the season, while the show led daytime's key demographic of women 25-54 among talkers, averaging a 1.6.

Disney-ABC's Live! with Kelly and Michael was not live in the session ending Aug. 25, instead airing a full week of repackaged shows, and declining 8% to a 2.3, the show's season low. For the season, however, the pairing of Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan averaged a second-place 2.6.

Overall, year-to-year comparisons are misleading due to the CBS-Time Warner Cable blackout and Superstorm Sandy, which caused Nielsen to cancel the November 2012 sweep in several East Coast markets and break out the ratings for most shows. That said, the vast majority of shows were still on par or within a tenth of a point of their prior-season performance.

NBCUniversal's Maury and Sony Pictures Television's Dr. Oz both held steady for the week at a 1.9. For the entire season, Oz averaged a 2.3 for fourth among talkers, while Maury tallied a 2.2 in households and was the highest-rated talker among women 18-34 and women 18-49 at a 1.3 and 1.4, respectively.

Warner Bros.' Ellen was flat for the week at a 1.7, but finished the season at a 2.4 to take third place in talk.
Disney-ABC's Katie also was unchanged for the week at a 1.5, and finished the season as the leading rookie in households at a 1.8.

NBCU's Steve Wilkos held steady at a 1.3 for the week, and averaged a 1.4 for the season.

CTD's Rachael Ray and NBCU's Jerry Springer each held firm at a 1.2 for the week and a 1.4 for the season, tying Wilkos and NBCU's newcomer, Steve Harvey, which held steady for the week at a 1.2, but averaged a 1.4 for the season.

CTD's The Doctors dipped 9% from the previous session to a 1.0, but posted a 1.3 season average.
Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams was flat for the week at a 1.0, but averaged a 1.2 for the year.

NBCU's rookie Trisha was unchanged at a 0.4 for the week, and averaged a 0.5 for its first season. Meredith's The Better Show was flat for the week at a 0.2, which also marked its season average.

CTD's Judge Judy held steady at a 6.2 for the week, which was greater than the next five court shows combined. Judy averaged a 7.0 for the season, making it first-run syndication's top show for the third year in a row. Judy also led all syndies among women 25-54 at a 3.5.

Warner Bros.' People's Court climbed 13% for the week to a 1.7, and posted a 1.8 season average. Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis moved ahead 8% to a 1.4 for the week, and averaged a 1.5 for the year. Twentieth's Judge Alex lost 8% from the week before to a 1.1, but managed a full-year 1.3. Twentieth's Divorce Court was flat at a 1.1 for the week, and also averaged a 1.3 for the season. Entertainment Studios' America's Court was flat for the week at a 0.6 and posted a 0.7 for the season. The verdict on ES' Justice for All was a 20% decline for the week to a 0.4 and a 0.4 for the year. ES' We the People remained at a 0.2, equal to its full-year grade.

CTD's magazine leader, Entertainment Tonight, eased 3% from the prior week to a 3.2, but led the field with a 3.6 annual average. CTD's Inside Edition dropped 7% to a 2.6 and landed at a 2.9 for the season. Warner Bros.' TMZ ended the season on a positive note, gaining 6% to a 1.9, the show's best showing in nine weeks and tying its season average.

NBCU's Access Hollywood dipped 6% for the week to a 1.5, but still finished the year at a 1.7 average. Warner Bros.' Extra, which this season is moving from Los Angeles' The Grove to Universal Studios, gained the most over the week, jumping 8% to a 1.4, the show's best number in six weeks, ending its season at a 1.5 average. CTD's omg! Insider was off 8% to a 1.2 for the week, but notched a 1.4 for the season, during which it switched to its new format in partnership with Yahoo!'s omg!. Twentieth's newcomer Dish Nation was flat at a 0.9, and averaged a 1.0 for the season.

CTD's Wheel of Fortune weakened 2% from the prior week to a 5.7, but ruled the game shows with a first-place 6.7 for the year. CTD's Jeopardy! sank to a new season low for the third consecutive frame, losing 2% to a 4.9, but ended the season at a 6.1. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud, with host Steve Harvey, was flat at a 4.5 and landed at a strong third place with a 4.6 season average. Among women 25-54, Feud tied Wheel at a 2.4 for the season, with Jeopardy! right behind at a 2.3.

Disney-ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which will premiere this season with new host Cedric the Entertainer, was flat for the week at a 2.3 in households, and finished its last season with host Meredith Vieira at a 2.4. NBCU's newbie Baggage sagged 17% from the previous week to a 1.0 and weighed in at a 1.1 for its first year.

Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory was up 5% for the week to a top-ranked 6.3, and remained the top off-net sitcom for the second season in a row with a 7.1. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men also added 5% to a 4.3, and totaled a full-season score of 4.9. Twentieth's Family Guy was flat at a 3.4, with a 3.6 season average. Twentieth's How I Met Your Mother fell 8% to a 2.4 but averaged a 2.6 for the season. Twentieth's King of the Hill was flat at a 2.3 for the week, and also decreed a 2.3 for the year. Warner Bros.' Friends also was stable for the week at a 2.2, and averaged a 2.1 for the season. SPT's Seinfeld sank 5% to a 2.0, with an annual mark of 2.2. CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond remained at a 1.8 for the sixth consecutive week, with a 1.9 season average.

Paige Albiniak

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.