'All Rise' for Top Court Shows

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Familiar names Judy, Oprah and Phil (Dr., not Donahue) remained the leaders among syndicated TV shows for the November sweeps ended Dec. 1 (syndicated ratings for the sweeps have just been released).

In a hot category, it was "all rise" for the top three judge shows over their October numbers, and by double digits.

Traditionally, the sweeps is compared to November year-ago ratings, but ratings crunchers point to a number of significant changes between the two sweeps periods. Nielsen has, for the first time, begun integrating its local people meters into the national sample, so comparing the two is a little like comparing winesaps and golden delicious. Plus, the Thanskgiving and Black Friday holidays were included in this sweep, but not in the last.

While most shows could be expected to improve October to November, given the sweeps stunting and promotion, most would have suffered from the comparison to November 2003.

With that caveat, The order in the court genre: Paramount’s Judge Judy was an easy winner, finishing strong with a 5.1 national household sweeps average, up 13% from October. Paramount’s Judge Joe Brown was a solid number two, up 10% to a 3.4. Twentieth’s Divorce Court came in third, up 13% to a 2.7, followed by Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, up 4% to a 2.6. Warner Bros.’ Judge Greg Mathis rounded out the top five with a 2.4, up 9%.

King World’s Car-dispensing Oprah was the talk leader, with an 8.1, up 7%. Its Dr. Phil, which equaled its highest ratings ever in the third week of the sweeps, ran a strong second, up 8% to a 5.5. Buena Vista’s Live with Regis and Kelly held on for third place at 3.5, up 3%. NBC Universal’s Maury at a 2.9 was up 12%, and Paramount’s Montel, at a 2.4, was up 4%.

In access, Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight was the number-one magazine, with the biggest month-to-month bump of any first-run access strip in syndication, up 15% to a 5.5.

In the runner-up spot, King World’s Inside Edition was up 13% to a 3.6.

The rookie champ for the past 12 weeks, Paramount’s The Insider, was third, up 12% to a 2.8 in its first major sweep. NBC Universal veteran Access Hollywood dropped a notch to fourth place, after being tied for third with Paramount’s The Insider in October, although its rating was up 4% to a 2.6. Warner Bros.’ Extra! came in fourth at a 2.4, up 9%.

Among the game shows, King World’s Jeopardy! averaged an 8.2, up 5% as superstar Ken Jennings finally lost to a real estate broker from Southern California on Tuesday, Nov. 30, in his 75th game. Jeopardy!’s Nov. 30 rating was an impressive 11.6, although the numbers gradually declined to a 9.0, an 8.7 and a 6.9 for the next three days. 

King World’s Wheel of Fortune, the top game, averaged a 9.2, up 7%. Buena Vista’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire was a distant third with a 3.5, up 9%. Next in line were Tribune’s Family Feud, at a 2.0, and Warner Bros.’ Street Smarts at a 0.9. Both shows were unchanged from October.

In late night, NBC Universal’s Blind Date took relationship show honors, averaging a 1.2, up 20% for the sweep. Warner Bros.’ Elimi-Date placed second with a 1.1, up 10%.

Among the first-run rookies, following The Insider were NBC Universal’s The Jane Pauley Show at a 1.5, up 7%; Buena Vista’s The Tony Danza Show at a 1.4, up 8%; Twentieth’s Ambush Makeover at a 1.1, up 10%; Warner Bros.’ The Larry Elder Show at a 0.9, up 13%; Sony’s Pat Croce: Moving In at a 0.7, up 17% and Sony’s Life & Style at a 0.5, unchanged.

King World’s Everybody Loves Raymond led off-net sitcoms with a 7.1, up 13%. Twentieth’s Malcolm in the Middle was the top rookie off-net strip at a 3.3, up 14%. Fear Factor was second at a 2.0, up 11%.

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