Syndication Ratings: Talk Show Ratings Remain Flat

Ratings for most syndicated shows were flat to down in the last week before Christmas (ending Dec. 24), thanks in part to a repeat-laden lineup that faced competition from last-minute shopping and unusually warm weather in the Northeast.

Taking another bite out of the Nielsen's numbers were the December 20 preemptions for the annual year-end presidential news conference.

The hot topic of syndicated conversation in the present week was low-rated freshman talker Megan Mullally ceasing production Jan. 3. In the past four weeks, the show has averaged a 0.8 rating/3 share in the metered markets, down 43% from its year-ago time period performance. Nationally, its 0.8 rating for the week matched the shows lowest of the season, down 11% from the week before.

At the other end of the rookie ratings spectrum is Rachael Ray, who continues to dominate the new class with ratings higher than the next two new talkers combined. Ray averaged a 2.1, unchanged from the week before, but including new ratings highs in six of the top-50 markets.

Second-place Dr. Keith Ablow recorded a 1.1, unchanged from the week before, followed by Greg Behrendt at a 0.8, also unchanged.

Veteran talkers were led, as usual, by Oprah. More unusually, and for the second week in a row, it was the only talker to hit a season low, down 12% to a 5.3 only seven-tenths of a rating point ahead of its spin-off, Dr. Phil (4.6). This is the closest the shows have been all season.

Live with Regis and Kelly recorded a 3.6, up 6%, while Maury notched a new season high up 18% to a 2.6.  Ellen Degeneres was down 5% to a 2.1, and Jerry Springer was up 6% to a 1.8.

All of the talk shows are down compared to this time last year, but Dr. Phil had the narrowest decline of only 2%.

Elsewhere, Entertainment Tonight had the highest ratings among magazines with a 5.1, down 2% for the week but up 4% from last year. Judge Judy was the top court show at a 4.7, unchanged from the week before and the year to date. Wheel of Fortune ruled the game shows and topped the ratings chart with an 8.4, down 2% on the week, but up 2% over last year.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.