Syndication Ratings: Syndies Slow Down at Sweep's End

Like their network counterparts, the majority of syndicated shows were flat to slightly lower in the 2014 November sweep.

Talk was a bright spot, however, with four of the top six up in household ratings, one even and one slightly down: Warner Bros.’ Ellen.

At the top of the list, CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil solidified his position as talk’s dominant force, winning its ninth major sweep in a row with a 3.5 household average, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was up 3% from last year and the show’s strongest November sweep performance since 2008. Phil also was the highest-rated talker among women 25-54 with a 1.8.

Ellen came next in the demo at a 1.7, although the show was down 3% in households from last year to a third-place 2.9. Ellen was followed by Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael at a 1.6. In households, Live had its best November in three years, since Regis Philbin bid farewell in 2011. Live climbed 7% from last year to a 3.1 household sweep average.

NBCUniversal’s Maury held steady at a 2.1. NBCU’s Steve Harvey, in its third year, scored its biggest November sweep yet, improving 6% to a 1.9.

Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams rose 14% to a November sweep high 1.6. NBCU’s Steve Wilkos gained 7% to a 1.5, matching its previous best November sweep mark and tying Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz. Dr. Oz slipped 32%, mainly due to the loss of numerous secondary runs and time period downgrades, landing at a 1.5. On the bright side, Oz’s ratings climbed 7% from last November on stations in top-20 markets where the show’s time slot remained the same.

CTD’s Rachael Ray receded 7% to a 1.4, but outperformed last year in top markets, finishing first in Los Angeles at KABC at 1 p.m., and giving WABC New York its highest November ratings in five years at 10 a.m. Ray also finished the sweep with a new season-high 1.6 in the week ending November 30.

NBCU’s Jerry Springer was steady at a 1.3. SPT’s Queen Latifah held firm at a 1.1, despite nearing the end of its run. CTD’s The Doctors, with weaker time periods in some markets, relinquished 8% to a 1.1, but ended the sweep on a high note, hitting a new season best 1.2 in the final week of the survey period. Further back, Meredith’s The Better Show was unchanged at a 0.2.

Elsewhere in daytime, most courts dropped a bit. TV’s top jurist, CTD’s Judge Judy was off, backtracking 4% from series record numbers in November 2013 to a 7.2, but only one-tenth of a point behind CTD’s Wheel of Fortune for overall first place in the sweep. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court dropped 6% to a 1.7. Twentieth’s Divorce Court also sagged 6% to a 1.5. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis tumbled 13% to a 1.4, while MGM’s Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court spurted 30% to a 1.3.

Among the first-run rookies, CTD’s Hot Bench remained hot in households, averaging a 1.7 for the sweep, up 31% from its September premiere. Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game, which has access clearances in several top 30 markets, posted a 1.3, followed by NBCU’s already renewed Meredith Vieira at a 1.2, Warner Bros.’ The Real at a 1.0 and Trifecta’s Judge Faith at a 0.7.

Among women 25-54, Hot Bench finished in first place with a 0.8 demo rating. Celebrity Name Game followed with a 0.7, tying The Real. Meredith was right behind at a 0.6, while Trifecta’s Judge Faith trailed with a 0.3.

Among game shows, the biggest gainer was Debmar-Mercury's Steve Harvey-hosted Family Feud, which leaped 19% from last November to a 6.2. CTD’s leader Wheel of Fortune fell 1% to a 7.3. CTD’s Jeopardy! jumped 6% to a 6.9, while Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire faded 10% to a 1.9.

Elsewhere, MGM’s video variety show RightThisMinute with many more clearances this November than last, ballooned 55% to a 1.7.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight was tops for the 96th sweep in a row, dating back 24 years, despite easing 8% from last November to a 3.6. CTD’s Inside Edition climbed 7% to a 3.2. Warner Bros.’ TMZ and NBCU’s Access Hollywood both held steady at a 1.9 and 1.8, respectively. Warner Bros.’ Extra was off 12% to a 1.5, thanks to heavy preemptions for football, news reports and holiday programming. CTD’s The Insider dropped 13% to a 1.3.

Rounding out the category, Twentieth’s Dish Nation climbed 11% to a 1.0, while Trifecta’s OK! TV was flat at a 0.2.

In off-net syndication, top sitcoms all were down except Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother, which improved 19% from last November to a 2.5 in its fifth season in syndication, and SPT’s long-running Seinfeld, which strengthened 6% to a 1.8 in its 20th year. Warner Bros.’ highest-rated laffer, The Big Bang Theory, dipped 3% to a 6.1 in its fourth season in off-net syndication. Twentieth’s Modern Family declined 13% to a 4.1 in year two. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men, which is in its last season on CBS, sank 19% to a 3.0 in year eight. Twentieth’s Family Guy also in year eight gave back 17% to a 2.5, tying How I Met Your Mother. Warner Bros.’ rookie Mike & Molly averaged a 2.2 in its first sweep. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show slumped 20% to a 1.6 in year two. Warner Bros.’ The Middle, also in its second season, fell 7% to a 1.4, tying Twentieth’s King of the Hill, which deteriorated 22% to a 1.4 in year 14.

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.