Talk Shows Strong in Sweeps

Talk shows were the talk of the syndicated ratings report for the week ending Nov. 5, which included the first two weekdays and first weekend of the November sweep.

The top six talkers were all up from the week before with four of the six scoring new season highs in the bargain.

Oprah was up 12% from the week before to a season-high 7.7 rating. Dr. Phil, which had his best week since May, scored a season-high 5.3, up 6% for the week and up 22% to a 6.1 on the first day of the sweep. It was thanks to an episode where a cheating husband thought his wife wasn't hot enough, got mad at Dr. Phil, and stormed off the set. For the week, Dr. Phil was in the number one spot in its time period in 39 of the 55 metered markets.

In third place, Live with Regis & Kelly was up 3% to a new season-high 3.5 and recorded a 3.9, its best single-day rating of the season, for its annual Halloween show during which the hosts came out dressed as each other, then went through four more cosutme changes.

Maury was up 4% to a season-high 2.4, while Ellen Degeneres was up 11% to a 2.1 and Montel Williams was up 6% to a 1.7.

All the talkers were down year-to-year with the exception of Oprah, which was up 5%, and Dr. Phil, which was even with last year.

Meanwhile, the rookie talk show race was no contest. Rachael Ray, which held steady at a 2.0, beat its next two contenders combined. Dr. Keith Ablow was a distant second, unchanged at a 1.0. Greg Behrendt dropped 11% to a 0.8, tied with Megan Mullally, which was unchanged at a 0.8. Mullally was upgraded Monday in L.A. from noon to 3 p.m. The show started at 4 p.m. in the market but was downgraded to noon on Oct. 23.

Elsewhere, Who Wants To Be a Millionare was the fastest-growing strip in first run, up 13% from year-ago numbers and up 3% week-to-week to a 3.4.

Wheel of Fortune, which continued to be the big wheel in games, was up 4% to a season-high 8.8 and up 6% from last year.

Most news magazines were quiet after a recent run-up. The Insider was the only show to move up week to week, up 4% to a 2.6. ET was the only show in the genre up from last year, gaining 2% while holding steady week to week at a 5.4. Rookie Geraldo at Large, was down 6% to a 1.6.

Court shows were mostly lower although leader Judge Judy bucked the trend, up 4% week to week and year to year to a a season-high 4.8.

Courtroom rookies were down, with Christina's Court off 7% to a 1.3 and Judge Maria Lopez down 10% to a 0.9.

In the opening weekend of the sweep. ET Weekend opened up a big lead in the first-run weekly hour race with a 3.0, up 3% for the week and from last year. Extra Weekend was back in the pack, but still with a season high 1.7, up 6% for the week, though down 11% from last year. Access Hollywood Weekend was up 7% to a 1.5, though down 17% from last year.

Leading the off-net weekly hours were three rookies. CSI: Miami was down 2% to a 4.7; American IdolRewind was up 4% to a season-high 2.9, and Without A Trace was down 4% to a 2.7.

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.