Doctors' Diagnosis: Growth

CBS strip led the way for rookies in 2008-2009

As the TV season winds up, one first-run rookie strip has risen above the rest: CBS Television Distribution's The Doctors, which grew 31% from its September premiere to its May close.

The Doctors, cleared almost entirely in daytime slots, premiered with a 1.3 live-plus-same-day national household average, according to Nielsen Media Research. By the week ending May 17, The Doctors had improved to a 1.7 season-to-date average.

That average doesn't tell the whole story, though. The Doctors grew steadily through the season, peaking during the week of Feb. 1 at a 2.1, a 62% increase from the show's debut. It also hit a 2.0 several times and was the top-rated rookie for the season's last 17 weeks, including two ties with NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal. The Doctors was the first new show to be renewed for season two.

During the May sweeps, which ran from April 23 to May 20, The Doctors scored first or second in its time period in 26 metered markets, averaging a 2.0 rating/6 share in 56 metered markets. That's up 18% from both its lead-in and year-ago time period averages.

Deal or No Deal, which is moving to Connecticut for its second season, tied The Doctors with a 1.7 season-to-date average, although Deal airs mostly in higher-viewed late afternoon and access time slots. Deal also has shown less growth than The Doctors, improving only 6% from its opening 1.6. During May, Deal averaged a 1.2 rating/3 share in 56 metered markets, exactly even with its year-ago time periods and down 8% from its lead-in.

The show does well in the top market, New York, where it was up 27% on WNBC at 4 p.m. Warner Bros.' Ellen aired in that slot last May.

Sony's Judge Karen, which was not renewed for season two, is this season's third-highest-rated rookie. Judge Karen is averaging a 1.0 rating for the season, down 9% from its 1.1 September premiere. In 50 metered markets during the May sweeps, Judge Karen averaged a 0.8/3, even with both its lead-in and year-ago time period averages.

In fourth place, Warner Bros.' Bonnie Hunt, which had two-year deals with stations and will return next year, averaged a 0.9 for the season, a 13% improvement. In May, Bonnie scored a 1.0/4 in 54 metered markets, down 23% from its lead-in and down 9% from last year's time period average.

Debmar-Mercury's Trivial Pursuit: America Plays, which will not return for a second season, averaged a 0.6 season to date, flat from its debut. In May, the show averaged a 0.6/2 in 49 metered markets, down 14% from its lead-in and year-ago time period averages, both of which averaged a 0.7/2.

Program Partners' Family Court, also not returning, fell 17% from its 0.6 debut, averaging a 0.5 for the season. Family Court suffers from limited clearances; it averaged a 0.2/2 in 19 metered markets in May, even with its lead-in but down 33% from its year-ago time period average.

E-mail comments to