Dame Judy Bench Boosts 'Regis'

Numbers down in all genres, but Scheindlin gooses Philbin
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The first week of May sweeps did not bring much good news for syndication. Just two of 30 first-run strips posted week-to-week gains, according to the live-plus-same-day household ratings for the week ended May 7.

People Using Television (PUT) levels fell for the sixth straight week, not uncommon for this time of year, when the days grow longer. PUT levels dropped by an average of 573,000 viewers for the week and have plummeted an average of 6.4 million, or 12%, over the six weeks of decline.

But two of syndication's biggest names, Regis Philbin and Oprah Winfrey, helped stem the tide with modest gains week-over-week. Live With Regis and Kelly had the biggest weekly gain, jumping 6% to average a 3.3. The show was buoyed by a May 4 appearance by Judge Judy Scheindlin.

However, Live was actually down 8% from last year at this time, when an appearance by booted American Idol hopeful Constantine Maroulis paced it to a big week.

Talk leader The Oprah Winfrey Show gained 1% on the week to a genre-winning 7.0, which was off 13% year-over-year. Elsewhere in talk, the news was not as good, with Dr. Phil down 6% on the week and 7% on the year to a 5.1. For Maury, in its first week after news broke of a lawsuit filed against host Maury Povich, average ratings were off 4% on the week and 14% on the year to a 2.5. Ellen averaged a 2.2, flat on both the week and the year, while Montel was flat for the week and down 13% for the year with a 2.0. Jerry Springer was also flat for the week but off 23% to a 1.7.

The newsmagazine genre was mostly down year-over-year. The comparison is a bit distorted, however: This time last year, the entertainment world was abuzz about the ABC special detailing American Idol contestant Corey Clark's allegations about a relationship with Paula Abdul. Entertainment Tonight led the way with a 4.9, down 2% on the week and year, while Inside Edition was off 3% on the week but up 3% on the year to a 3.4. The Insider was next with a 2.5, flat on the week but off 11% on the year; Access Hollywood was off 8% on the week and 15% on the year to a 2.3. Extra, meanwhile,was even on the week but down 9% on the year to a 2.1.

No court show posted weekly or yearly gains. Despite its star's helping Regis and Kelly, Judge Judy fell 2% on the week and 4% on the year to a 4.5. Judge Joe Brown was flat on the week but off 6% on the year to a 3.0, People's Court was down 4% for both the week and the year to a 2.6, Divorce Court fell 4% on the week and 7% on the year (2.5), and Judge Mathis held steady on the week but lost 4% on the year (2.3).

The news was no better for game shows. Wheel of Fortune averaged a 7.8, down 3% for the week and 6% for the year, while Jeopardy! averaged a 6.4; that was flat for the week but a 1% dip year-over-year. Who Wants To Be a Millionaire declined 3% for both the week and year to a 3.1, while Family Feud was flat on the week but dropped 5% on the year to a 2.0.

In off-net sitcoms, Everybody Loves Raymond led with a 5.4 but was off 5% on the week and 16% on the year. Seinfeld averaged a 5.0, up 2% on the week but down 11% year-to-year, while Friends was flat on the week and down 13% on the year to a 4.5. And although King of Queens will have another season on CBS, it was the only strip in syndication to hit a new season low, dropping 4% on the week and 8% on the year to a 2.3.

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