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Syndication Ratings: Syndies Get Slow Sweeps Start

While other syndies started sweeps with a whimper, Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres began with a bang.

The show hit a season high 2.5 live plus same day national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, in the week ending Feb. 3. That includes the first two weekdays of the February sweeps. Ellen jumped 4% from the prior week and 25% from the past month, marking the fourth week in a row that Ellen has shown week-to-week gains.

In general, the week was a good one for talk shows. The top talker, CBS’ Oprah, improved 13% to a 5.9. CBS’ Dr. Phil perked up 4% to a 4.9, spiking 15% on the first day of the sweep, Jan. 31, with a show on vigilante justice. In third place, Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly dropped 6% to a 3.0.

After that, CBS’ Rachael Ray fell 4% to a 2.2, tying NBC Universal’s Maury, which was flat. CBS’ Montel Williams, which is going out of original production after this season, dropped 6% to a 1.6. NBC U’s Jerry Springer, Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks and NBC U’s Martha Stewart all were unchanged at a 1.4, 1.2 and 1.1, respectively.

Twentieth’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet – daytime’s highest-rated rookie – matched its series high 1.2, jumping 9% from the prior week. Daytime’s other rookie talker, NBC U’s Steve Wilkos, was off 10% to a 0.9.

Other than Oprah, Phil, Ellen and Mike and Juliet, very few first-run shows saw increases in a week that saw levels of people using television drop by more than three million viewers.

Sticking with daytime, CBS’ Judge Judy fell 5% to a genre-leading 5.3, but remained one of two syndicated shows to be up over the same week last year with a 4% gain. CBS’ Judge Joe Brown held steady at a 2.9. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court fell 4% to a 2.6, while Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis moved down 4% to a 2.3. Twentieth’s Divorce Court was flat at a 2.1, but up 5% from the same week last year at this time, making it the only other first-run strip to gain on the year.

Twentieth’s Judge Alex inched down 5% to a 2.0. Sony’s Judge Hatchett, also due to go out of original production at the end of the season; Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court; and Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez all were flat at a 1.4, 1.4 and 1.0, respectively.

Sony’s rookie gaveller Judge David Young, dove 18% to a 0.9, while Radar Entertainment’s Jury Duty remained far back at an unchanged 0.3.

Moving into access, CBS’ Wheel of Fortune dropped 4% to a 8.2, while CBS’ Jeopardy! lost 7% to a 6.5. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire dipped 3% to a 3.2. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud was flat at a 2.0. Program Partners’ rookie game, Crosswords, was the only game to gain on the week, rising 13% to a 0.9. Twentieth’s fellow newcomer, Temptation, tumbled 17% to a 0.5.

The magazines finally fell back to earth after spending a month riding high reporting the many problems of pop star Britney Spears. CBS’ Entertainment Tonight dipped 2% to a 5.1. CBS’ Inside Edition, the category’s only gainer, climbed 6% to a 3.7. NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood held steady at a 2.7. CBS’ The Insider slid 4% to a 2.4. Warner Bros.’ TMZ, the overall rookie leader, dipped 8% from the prior week’s season-high to a 2.3, while Warner Bros.’ Extra eased 5% to a 2.0.

Rookie off-net sitcoms and genre leaders Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men and Twentieth’s Family Guy were both flat at a 5.5 and 4.7, respectively.  Sony’s Seinfeld, claiming third place for the third week in a row, fell 5% to a 4.2. CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond, now in fourth place, was steady at a 4.0. Sony’s King of Queens fell 6% to a 3.3, just holding off Warner Bros.’ rookie, George Lopez, which gained 7% to a 3.2. Warner Bros.’ Friends was up 3% to a 3.1.