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Syndication Ratings: Syndies Succumb to March Madness

With the Winter Olympics behind them, syndies now have to face March Madness, with the popular annual college basketball tournament airing on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV from March 13 through April 2

The tourney got underway in full in the week ended March 18. As usual, shows with many clearances on CBS-owned and -affiliated stations — and particularly those that air in late-afternoon or access time periods — were hit with massive preemptions. As a result, ratings for a number of first-run shows went into a tailspin.

For example, CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy, which is heavily cleared on larger CBS stations in 4 p.m. time slots, did not air in numerous cities and saw its primary runs bumped in five of the country’s top ten markets on March 15 and 16.

Judy lost 11% to a 6.5 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Still, the show, which has been nominated outstanding court show by the Daytime Emmys, actually improved 3% from last year at this time to remain syndication’s top-rated show.

CTD’s Hot Bench, which airs predominantly in daytime and thus was preempted far less than Judy, slipped 4% for the week to a 2.4. The panel court show improved 4% from last year at this time, however, to rank as daytime’s third-highest rated show behind only Judy and CTD’s Dr. Phil.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court climbed 6% to a 1.7. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis moved up 9% to a 1.2. Twentieth’s Divorce Court and Trifecta’s Judge Faith stayed at a 0.9 and 0.6, respectively.

The games were all losers in the weekly household ratings. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud fell 4% to a 6.4, to hold as the second-highest rated show in overall syndication. Feud also remained the women 25-54 leader at a 2.7 for the week.

CTD’s Jeopardy! tumbled 12% to a 5.9, while CTD’s Wheel of Fortune faded 15% to a 5.6. Both shows air on ABC-owned stations in the country’s top markets, so they were not preempted but they did face stronger competition than usual from the basketball tournament.

Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which airs mainly in daytime on ABC-owned stations in top markets, depreciated 6% to a 1.7.

Disney-ABC’s viral video show RightThisMinute was unchanged at a 1.4, tying NBCUniversal’s off-net true crime strip Dateline, which recovered 8%.

Back in daytime, Dr. Phil, which was in reruns for three of the week’s five days, gave back 13% to a 2.8, although that was more than enough to lead the talkers for the 80th straight week with one tie. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Phil led with a 1.2.

Returning to households, Disney-ABC’s Live With Kelly and Ryan, which was nominated along with its hosts for Daytime Emmys in the outstanding entertainment talk show and host categories, receded 8% to a 2.3. That gave it second place in talk for a second straight week and made it the only show out of 14 veteran talker to avoid an annual decline, holding steady compared to the same week last year.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres, which was the Daytime Emmys nominated as outstanding entertainment talk show, went back into originals after a week of repeats and rose 11% to a 2.1.

NBCUniversal’s Maury remained at a 1.4. NBCU’s Steve, which was nominated outstanding informative talk show and host Steve Harvey in its first season after being reformatted and moved to Los Angeles, held steady at a 1.2 despite being in reruns for part of the week, tying CTD’s Rachael Ray, which retreated 8%.

Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams perked up 22% to a 1.1 with Jerry O’Connell filling in as guest host for the ailing Williams following two weeks of encores. Williams returned to the show on March 19 with original episodes. That tied SPT’s Dr. Oz, which flatlined at a 1.1 for a fourth straight week, as well as NBCU’s conflict talkers Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos, with Springer holding steady and Wilkos advancing 10% for the week.

Warner Bros.’ Crime Watch Daily with Chris Hansen strengthened 11% to a 1.0. NBCU’s Harry, which won’t return after this season, gained 14% to a 0.8 and tied CTD’s The Doctors, which was in stable condition at its season low for the third straight week, although down 11% from last year at this time.

Warner Bros.’ The Real remained at its season-low 0.7 for a third consecutive week and sagged 22% from last year.

Week three of a trial run of The Raw Word in 10 metered markets on Sinclair-owned stations averaged a 0.3 rating/1 share, down 40% from its lead in and off 73% from its year-ago time period average. Among women 25-54, The Raw Word managed a 0.2/1, down 33% from lead in and off 85% from last year.

CTD’s DailyMailTV, nominated for a Daytime Emmy as outstanding entertainment news program, was flat at a 1.1 for a third consecutive week in households, with an unchanged 0.6 among women 25-54.

Twentieth’s Page Six TV, which on March 12 began using different guest hosts each week after the departure of John Fugelsang, matched its season high, rallying 14% to a 0.8 despite basketball preemptions. The show also maintained a 0.4 in the key demo.

Entertainment Studios’ Funny You Should Ask stayed at a 0.5 with a 0.2 among women 25-54. Disney-ABC’s Pickler & Ben, produced by Scripps, was unchanged at a 0.3 but rose a tenth of a ratings point to a 0.2 among the key demo.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight, NBCU’s Access and Warner Bros.’ Extra all joined DailyMailTV in the Daytime Emmys’ outstanding news magazine category. Entertainment Tonight returned to the magazine lead for the second straight week, climbing 3% to a 3.3, its best performance since the week ending Jan. 21. CTD’s Inside Edition, Warner Bros.’ TMZ, Access and Extra all were steady at a 3.1, 1.4, 1.3 and 1.2, respectively. Trifecta’s Celebrity Page posted a 0.3, up 50% from the prior week.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory led a stable of mostly steady off-network sitcoms at an even 4.9. Twentieth’s Modern Family also held at a 2.3 for second place. Twentieth’s Last Man Standing was the outlier, growing 12% to a third-place 1.9. SPT’s newcomer The Goldbergs recovered 6% to a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men remained at a 1.6. Twentieth’s FamilyGuy slid 6% to a 1.5, tying Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly, which was unchanged. SPT’s Seinfeld added 9% to a 1.2, tying Warner Bros.’ 2 Broke Girls, which was flat. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show also was unchanged at a 1.1.

Warner Bros.’ rookie Mom was steady at a 1.0 for a fourth straight week, while CTD’s The Game was unchanged at a 0.4 for the sixth time in seven weeks. 

Paige Albiniak
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.