Syndication Ratings: Syndie Talkers Start Strong as Viewing Patterns Settle In

As the syndie TV season got underway, daytime viewers returned to their TV habits to give most talkers a strong start in the week ending Sept. 22.

Despite preemptions for coverage of the shootings at Washington D.C.'s Navy Yard on Sept. 16, most talkers were up from the prior week.

NBCUniversal's Steve Harvey, who is starting this season with upgrades in many markets, opened its second season at a 1.6 live plus same day household ratings average, a 14% weekly jump in addition to the 17% the show gained in the prior week, and that show's highest rating since the May sweep. Harvey is up 23% from last year at this time, and 33% from last season's premiere week. Harvey also added an average of 600,000 total viewers per show, up 39% from an average 1.5 million for last season's opener to 2.1 million currently.

Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams kicked off its fifth season at a 1.3, up 44% from its previous week of reruns and up 30% from its fourth-season premiere last September.

At the top of the talk ladder, CBS Television Distribution's Dr. Phil advanced 3% from the prior week to a first-place 3.0, marking that show's best rating in 17 weeks. Holding steady in second place was Disney-ABC's Live with Kelly and Michael at a 2.7.

Warner Bros.' Ellen was one of the few daytime talkers to decline, dropping 4% to a third-place 2.5. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Television's Dr. Oz scored its highest ratings in eight weeks, climbing 5% to a 2.1, and tying NBCU's Maury, which opened its 16th season with an 11% weekly rise and the show's highest numbers since the week of July 15.

Disney-ABC's Katie gave back 5% in week two of its second season to a 1.8, after gaining 19% to a 1.9 in the prior week.

CTD's Rachael Ray rallied 8% to a 1.4.

NBCU's Steve Wilkos spiked 8% to a 1.3, with the show's seventh season premiere, tying Wendy Williams. NBCU's Jerry Springer added 9% to a 1.2 with its 23rd season premiere.

CTD's The Doctors dipped 8% to a 1.1. NBCU's Trisha began its second season with a 25% gain to a 0.5, while Meredith's The Better Show came in last at a 0.2.

SPT's Queen Latifah clocked a 1.4 national household rating in its first full week, marking the second highest talk premiere in four years. Only Katie's debut, at a 2.0, has been higher since Dr. Oz premiered in 2009.

Warner Bros.' Bethenny finally showed up on the ratings chart for the first time with a 0.9 for week two after Nielsen reprocessed its premiere week in the prior session.

CTD's conflict talker, The Test, was flat at a 0.6.
In late night, CTD's Arsenio Hall was preempted or pushed into post-midnight slots by baseball and other sporting events in 22 different markets during the week, slipping 18% to a 0.9 in its second week.

At the top of syndication's leader board, CTD's Judge Judy held steady at a 7.1, growing 6% from last year and extending its streak as first-run syndication's top show to 21 straight weeks.

Warner Bros.' People's Court was the distant number-two at a flat 1.7. Twentieth's Judge Alex advanced 15% to a 1.5, tying Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis, which added 7%. Twentieth's Divorce Court picked up 8% to a 1.4. The court shows produced by Entertainment Studios - America's Court, Justice for All and We the People -- are no longer nationally rated because the shows are being sold as a block. In its first week on the Nielsen chart, that bundle averaged a 0.3.

In access, Warner Bros.' Extra was the only magazine in the top-five to improve week to week, forging ahead 7% in the previous session to a 1.5.

CTD's leader Entertainment Tonight -- whose executive producer, Linda Bell Blue, will wrap her nearly 20 year run by next fall -- set the pace with a steady 3.3.

CTD's Inside Edition, Warner Bros.' TMZ, NBCU's Access Hollywood and CTD's omg! Insider all were unchanged at a 2.8, 2.0, 1.7 and 1.3, respectively.

Twentieth's sophomore Dish Nation rose 11% to a 1.0, while two newly rated shows -- MGM's Right This Minute and Trifecta's America Now -- debuted on the national charts at a 0.9 and 0.3, respectively.

Newcomer Trifecta's OK! TV trailed at a flat 0.2.

Among the game shows, CTD's leader Wheel of Fortune sped up 5% to a 6.4. CTD's Jeopardy! tacked on 9% to a 5.8.

Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud, starring Steve Harvey, finished 2% higher at a 4.6. Feud also wrapped the 2012-13 season tied with Wheel among daytime's key demographic of women 25-54 at a 2.4. Disney-ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire with new host Cedric the Entertainer added 5% to a 2.2, while NBCU's Baggage matched its prior-week 1.0.

Three new off-net sitcoms -- Twentieth's The Cleveland Show, Warner Bros.' The Middle and SPT's Community -- premiered during the week to a 2.1, 1.2 and 0.4, respectively. Twentieth's Modern Family premiered on Monday, Sept. 23; its national number will appear for the first time next week.

Among the vets, Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men were unchanged at a 6.1 and 3.9, respectively.

Twentieth's Family Guy declined 3% to a 3.0. Twentieth's How I Met Your Mother moved up 10% to a 2.3. SPT's Seinfeld stayed at a 1.9. Twentieth's King of the Hill declined 10% to a 1.8, tying Warner Bros.' Friends, which was flat at a 1.8.

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.