Syndication Ratings: Syndies No Match for March Madness

The NCAA college men’s basketball tournament shook up syndication in the week ending March 23, as numerous games on CBS stations and on cable preempted some shows and presented stronger-than-usual competition to others.

Although most talk shows were steady to higher, CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil—which has a majority of its major market clearances on CBS owned and affiliated stations, and went into reruns on four of the five days—slipped 18% from the prior week to a 2.7 live-plus-same day Nielsen household rating to tie Warner Bros.’ Ellen for second place. Ellen, in originals all week, improved 4% from the prior week.

Disney/ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael topped the talk list for the fourth time since January, including ties, holding steady at a 2.9, even though the show aired repackaged episodes on three of the five days. Despite the repeats, Live was up 16% and Dr. Phil grew 13% compared to last year at this time.

NBCU’s Maury climbed 10% to a 2.2. Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz held firm at a 2.0. NBU’s sophomore Steve Harvey spiked 6% to a 1.9. Disney/ABC’s Katie was unchanged at its season-low 1.5 for the second week in a row.

NBCU’s Steve Wilkos tied Katie, jumping 15% for the week and the year. On Monday, March 31, a second run of Wilkos started airing at 4 p.m. on Tribune’s WPIX New York, replacing a third run of Maury. Wilkos also airs at noon on the station.

CTD’s Rachael Ray remained at a 1.4, tying Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams. NBCU’s Jerry Springer spurted 18% to a 1.3, while CTD’s The Doctors, NBCU’s Trisha and Meredith’s The Better Show all were unchanged at a 1.2, 0.6 and 0.2, respectively.

SPT’s top rookie, Queen Latifah, gained 10% to a 1.1. Warner Bros.’ Bethenny remained flat at its series-low 0.7 for a second week in a row.

Further back, CTD’s The Test was flat at a 0.6. Neither Trisha nor The Test will return next season.

In late night, CTD’s Arsenio Hall held steady at a 0.7.

Among court shows, CTD’s Judge Judy did not air several times in key markets due to basketball and gave back 6% from the previous week to a 6.7 but was still up 2% from last year at this time. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was flat at a 1.8. Twentieth’s Divorce Court rebounded 7% to a 1.6. Twentieth’s already-canceled Judge Alex also picked up 7% to a 1.5, tying Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis, which added 7%.

Trailing the field, MGM’s newcomer Paternity Court, renewed for season two, was flat at a 1.0.

In access, interest in the tragic suicide of fashion designer L’Wren Scott, longtime girlfriend of Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger, trumped March Madness for two of the top-four magazines. CTD’s leader Entertainment Tonight improved 9% from the prior week to a 3.8, despite the basketball tournament. NBCU’s Access Hollywood, up 13% for the week and the second-ranked entertainment magazine, tied Warner Bros.’ TMZ, which was flat. CTD’s Inside Edition, the number-two overall magazine, sank 10% to a 2.8. Warner Bros.’ Extra held steady at a 1.6 and increased 7% from last year, marking the largest year-to-year gain of any show in the magazine category. CTD’s The Insider was widely preempted due to basketball, dropping 8% to a 1.2.

Further down, MGM’s RightThisMinute was flat at a 1.1. Twentieth’s Dish Nation dropped 10% to a 0.9. Trifecta’s recently-canceled America Now recovered 33% to a 0.4, while Trifecta’s rookie OK! TV, returning next season, tumbled 33% to a 0.2.

Game shows were a mixed bag. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune inched up 1% from the prior frame to a syndication-leading 7.0. CTD’s Jeopardy! lost 8% to a 6.1. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud upticked 2% to a 5.3. Disney/ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire was flat at a 2.2.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory continued to dominate the off-net sitcoms, perking up 3% from the prior week to a 6.1. Twentieth’s newcomer Modern Family was flat at a 4.3. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men was flat at a 3.4. Twentieth’s Family Guy fell 7% to a 2.7. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother lost 5% to a 1.9, tying SPT’s Seinfeld and Twentieth's rookie The Cleveland Show, which added 6%. Warner Bros.’ Friends 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.