Syndication Ratings: Court Shows Triumph in Christmas Week

'Judge Judy' prevails over all of syndication, while 'Live!,' in originals, takes back top talk slot

Court shows had syndication's best Christmas in the week ended Christmas Day, 2011, with every show in the genre up or steady for the week and for the year.

CBS Television Distribution's Judge Judy led all of syndication with a 7.2, up 3% for the week and 76% for the year. (Last year at this time, Nielsen only counted primary runs in a show's average audience rating; now Nielsen counts all runs in that average. Judy airs in double-runs in strong afternoon time periods, so that change has given the show a significant year-to-year ratings boost.)

In second place, CTD's Judge Joe Brown jumped 7% for the week and 45% for the year to a second-place 2.9. Warner Bros.' People's Court added 5% from the prior week and 17% from last year to a 2.1. Twentieth's Judge Alex was steady at a 1.7, but surged 31% from last year at this time. Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis scored a 1.7, up 6% for the week and 13% for the year. Twentieth's Divorce Court clocked a 1.6, up 7% for the week and 23% for the year. CTD's Swift Justice improved 17% for the week to a 1.4 and grew 8% from last year. Entertainment Studios' America's Court with Judge Ross climbed 11% to a 1.0, a 150% jump from last year when it was cleared in weaker time periods.

Disney-ABC's Live! with Kelly took back talk's top spot, airing live and kicking off its "Aloha Hawaii Watch-to-Win Giveaway." Ratings for the week rose 7% to a 3.0, edging out CTD's typical talk leader, Dr. Phil. Phil, in repeats, slipped 13% to a new season -low 2.6, although that was still up 13% from last year at this time. Sony's Dr. Oz, which was flat, tied Dr. Phil.

NBCU's Maury tacked on 4% to a 2.4 for fourth place. Warner Bros.' Ellen descended 19% to a new season-low 2.1. CTD's Rachael Ray rose 6% to equal its season-high 1.7. NBCU's Jerry Springer added 7% to also hit a new season-high 1.6. CTD's The Doctors were flat at a 1.5, tying NBCU's Steve Wilkos, which added 8%. Sony's Nate Berkus, which will end its run after this season, rallied 9% to a 1.2. Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams trailed, dropping 9% to a 1.0.

CTD's new late-night dating show, Excused, showed the most improvement among all first-run rookies, spiking 14% from the previous session to a new series-high 0.8. Warner Bros.' Anderson was stable at a 1.3 to lead the first-run freshmen. Debmar-Mercury's Jeremy Kyle and ES' We the People with Gloria Allred were unchanged at a 0.6 and 0.5, respectively.

None of the magazines improved during the slow holiday week. CTD's leader, Entertainment Tonight, declined 5% from the prior week to a 3.5. CTD's Inside Edition weakened 6% to a 2.9. NBCU's Access Hollywood eased 5% to a 1.9, tying Warner Bros.' TMZ, which was flat. CTD's The Insider and Warner Bros.' Extra each were off 6% to 1.5s.

Among the games, CTD's Wheel of Fortune was flat at a 7.1, dropping just behind Judge Judy in the overall standings. CTD's Jeopardy! upticked 2% to a 5.9. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud faded 6% to a 3.0. Disney-ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire gained 4% to a 2.5.

Among the off-net sitcoms, Warner Bros.' hot rookie, The Big Bang Theory, dipped 3% from the prior week to a 6.5, still good enough to lead the entire genre for the third straight week. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men inched up 2% to a 6.3. Twentieth's Family Guy fell 13% to a 3.9. Twentieth's How I Met Your Mother and Sony's Seinfeld each were flat at a 3.5 and 2.7, respectively. Carsey-Werner's That 70s Show shot up 59% to a new season high 2.7, tying Seinfeld. CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond remained at a 2.5. Warner Bros.' Friends finished 4% down at a 2.4, while Twentieth's King of the Hill was flat at a 2.2.

Among the other sitcom rookies, NBCU's 30 Rock was stable at a 1.4 in late fringe. Twentieth's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia picked up 8% to a 1.3, while Sony's ‘Til Death was unchanged at a 0.7.