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Syndication ratings: Top Talkers Come Back Strong as Syndie Season Gets Underway

Much of the new syndication season kicked off in the week ending Sept. 15, with many shows debuting on Sept. 9.

In talk, CBS Television Distribution's Dr. Phil picked up where it left off, taking first place with a 2.9 live plus same day national household average, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was up 16% from the prior week, which also was mostly originals, and up 12% from last year.

Disney-ABC's Live with Kelly and Michael, which launched its season in the prior week, turned in a strong second-place finish at a 2.7, growing 8% for the week and 13% from last year at this time, which was Michael Strahan's second week as Kelly Ripa's co-host.

Warner Bros.' Ellen, which has been completely in reruns for the past three months, launched its 11th season at a third-place 2.6, the show's highest household opening ever and a 63% rebound from the prior week's 1.6, the lowest ratings the show had scored in a year.

Opening its fifth season, SPT's Dr. Oz posted its highest ratings in five weeks, gaining 5% to a 2.0 for fourth place.

Disney-ABC's Katie scored its best numbers since the week of Feb. 25, gaining 19% for the week to a 1.9, and dipping 5% from the show's 2.0 debut last fall.

NBCU's Maury, still in repeats, remained at a 1.9, tying Katie.

NBCU's Steve Harvey, which didn't premiere until Sept. 16, climbed 17% from the previous week and year to a 1.4, that show's strongest showing since the week of June 10.

CTD's Rachael Ray rose 8% in her eighth-season premiere week to a 1.3. CTD's The Doctors held firm at a 1.2. NBCU's Steve Wilkos and Jerry Springer, both of which did not premiere until Sept. 16, were off 8% to a 1.2 and 1.1, respectively.

Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams, in repeats, was flat for the week at a 0.9.

NBCU's Trisha -- which, like its fellow NBCU conflict talkers, also launched its second season on Sept. 16 -- was steady at a 0.4.

Meredith's The Better Show came in last at a flat 0.2.

Among syndication's newest entries, CTD's The Arsenio Hall Show debuted at a 1.1 national household rating. Among late-night's key demographic of adults 25-54, Arsenio scored a 0.8, behind only NBC's The Tonight Show at a 1.0, and tying ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live and beating all other late-night shows in the demo.

In daytime, national numbers for Warner Bros.' Bethenny were unavailable due reprocessing by Nielsen. In the week beginning Sept. 16, Bethenny's second week, the show averaged a 1.0/3 in households in the metered markets, down 29% from its 1.4/5 lead-in and down 17% from its 1.2/4 year-ago time period average.

The first national rating for SPT's Queen Latifah comes out next week, but the show averaged a 1.5 household rating in the metered markets in its first full week.

CTD's new conflict talker, The Test, got a low grade in its first outing, debuting at a 0.6.

At the top of the syndication ladder by a full ratings point, CTD's Judge Judy returned to the bench for its 18th season, averaging a 7.1, up 15% for the week and 13% from last year's premiere week. Judy also extended its streak as first-run's top show to 20 straight weeks.

In distant second among the court shows, Warner Bros.' People's Court added 6% to a 1.7. Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis, Twentieth's Judge Alex, Twentieth's Divorce Court and Entertainment Studios' America's Court all were flat at a 1.4, 1.3, 1.3, and 0.6, respectively. ES' Justice for All dropped 25% from a 0.4 to a 0.3, while ES' We the People was unchanged at a 0.2.

Magazines were generally strong, although some shows were heavily preempted. For example, Warner Bros.' Extra, which held steady at a 1.4, did not air 68 times during the week after being displaced by U.S. Open tennis and other sports.

CTD's leader, Entertainment Tonight, which also faced preemptions in many markets, also was flat at a 3.3.
CTD's Inside Edition advanced 12% to a 2.8. Warner Bros.' TMZ tacked on 11% to a 2.0. NBCU's Access Hollywood scored the largest week to week gain of any magazine, rocketing 21% to a 1.7. CTD's omg! Insider spiked 8% to a 1.3. Twentieth's sophomore Dish Nation was flat at a 0.9, while Trifecta's new entry OK! TV trailed with a 0.2 for its opening week.

Game shows were in recovery following a down week. CTD's leader, Wheel of Fortune, accelerated 11% from the prior week to a 6.1. CTD's Jeopardy! recovered 10% from a one-year low to a 5.3. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud finished 2% higher at a 4.5. Disney-ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire, with new host Cedric the Entertainer, held steady for the week at a 2.1 and was up 5% over last year at this time when Meredith Vieira was the show's host. Further back, NBCU's Baggage picked up 11% to a 1.0.

Among the off-net sitcoms, Warner Bros.' sitcom leader TheBig Bang Theory added 3% from the prior session to a 6.1. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men slipped 7% to a 3.9. Twentieth's Family Guy lost 9% to a 3.1. Twentieth's How I Met Your Mother skidded 13% to a 2.1. Twentieth's King of the Hill declined 5% to a 2.0. SPT's Seinfeld sank 5% to a 1.9. Warner Bros.' Friends fell 5% to a 1.8, and SPT's Rules of Engagement gave back 6% to a 1.6.

Twentieth's Modern Family debuted in broadcast syndication on Monday, Sept. 23, to a 1.5 household ratings in the weighted metered markets. Comparatively, Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory, which grew into a huge syndicated hit, opened to a 1.7 on Sept. 19, 2011.

On Fox's WYNW New York at 7 and 7:30 p.m., Modern Family debuted at a 2.0 and 2.4, respectively, up 54% and 20% from last year's time-period average in those slots. On Fox's KTTV Los Angeles at 7 and 7:30 p.m., the show debuted at a 2.1 in both half-hours, up 75% and 32%, respectively, from last year.

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.