Syndication Ratings: Syndies Bounce Back in Face of March Madness

Despite having to compete with March Madness’ Sweet 16 and frequent preemptions for network news updates on the missing Malaysian jetliner, the majority of syndicated shows edged higher or at least held steady in the week ended March 30.

Four of the top seven talkers scored week-to-week gains. CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, which aired its 2000th episode on Tuesday (April 8), was back in first place for the 30th time in the past 34 weeks at a 2.9 live plus same day household average, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s up 7% from the prior week and 4% from last year at this time, even though the show was in repeats on two of the five days.

Disney/ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael — whose banner season has caught the eye of ABC’s Good Morning America, with Michael Strahan expected to spend an hour most days on the network morning news show — dipped 3% to a second place 2.8 but was still up 12% of last year at this time.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen slipped 7% to a third place 2.5. Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz grew 5% to a 2.1, tying NBCUniversal’s Maury for fourth place. Maury eased 5%, but led the talk shows in all female demos, finishing first among women 18-34 with a 1.3, first among women 18-49 with a 1.4 and tying Dr. Phil for first among women 25-54 with a 1.5 in the key demo.

NBCU’s Steve Harvey marched 5% higher to a 2.0, up 33% from last year at this time, the largest year-to-year increase of any talk show. Disney/ABC’s canceled Katie rebounded 7% from its season low the prior week to a 1.6.

NBCU’s Steve Wilkos, CTD’s Rachael Ray, Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, NBCU’s Jerry Springer, CTD’s The Doctors, NBCU’s recently-canceled Trisha and Meredith’s The Better Show all held steady at a 1.5, 1.4, 1.4, 1.3, 1.2, 0.6 and 0.2, respectively.

SPT’s Queen Latifah, the season’s sole surviving freshman daytime show, gave back 9% to a 1.0. in repeats for part of the week. Warner Bros.’ canceled Bethenny remained at its series-low 0.7 for the third week in a row. Further back, CTD’s The Test, which like Bethenny did not make the renewal grade, was flat at a 0.6.

On the other hand, CTD’s late-night newcomer Arsenio, which has been renewed for season two, gained 14% to a 0.8. In court, CTD’s Judge Judy was the only program to improve for the week, jumping 10% from the previous frame to a 7.4 and tying CTD’s Wheel of Fortune at the top of the syndication leader board.

Every other gaveler was flat, with Warner Bros.’ distant number-two People’s Court at a 1.8, Twentieth’s Divorce Court at a 1.6, Twentieth’s canceled Judge Alex and Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis tied at a 1.5, and MGM’s newcomer Paternity Court at a 1.0.

Elsewhere, magazines were mixed. CTD’s leader Entertainment Tonight was off 3% from the prior week to a 3.7, although it was up 3% versus last year. CTD’s Inside Edition regained most of what it lost in the prior session, rebounding 7% to a 3.0. Warner Bros.’ TMZ was flat at a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ Extra spiked 6% to a 1.7, tying NBCU’s Access Hollywood which backed off 6% to a 1.7. In addition, Warner Bros.' Extra shot up 13% from last year at this time, the biggest year-to-year improvement of any show in the magazine genre. CTD's The Insider, meanwhile, picked up 8% to a 1.3, despite numerous basketball preemptions.

Further down the magazine list, MGM’s RightThisMinute, which has been picked up by several large-market Fox stations for next season, was up 9% to a 1.2. Twentieth’s Dish Nation recovered 11% to a 1.0. Trifecta’s recently canceled America Now sank 25% to a 0.3, tying Trifecta’s OK! TV, which gained 50% to a 0.3 from a 0.2.

Game shows also were a mixed bag. CTD’s leader Wheel of Fortune added 6% from the prior week to a 7.4. CTD’s Jeopardy! inched up 2% to a 6.2. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud fell 2% to a 5.2. Disney/ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which will add double-runs on several large-market ABC owned stations next fall, was flat at a 2.2.

Among off-net sitcoms, Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory heated up 3% from the prior week to a 6.3. Twentieth’s newcomer Modern Family was flat for the third consecutive week at a 4.3. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men moved up 6% to a 3.6. Twentieth’s Family Guy faded 7% to a 2.5. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother, which ended its network run with much fanfare, soared 16% to a 2.2. SPT’s Seinfeld skidded 5% to a 1.8, tying Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show, which also was down 5%, and Warner Bros.’ Friends, which was flat. Twentieth’s King of the Hill declined 6% to a 1.6.

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.