In the biggest debut for a talk strip since Rosie O'Donnell, the first
episode of Paramount Television's Dr. Phil scored huge numbers, with a 5.2 rating/14
share in 53 metered markets, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Rosie O'Donnell's talker premiered June 10,
1996, with a 4.4/16, a higher share than Dr. Phil but a lower
rating. And Rosie's June premiere likely means Dr. Phil's actual numbers
were higher, one analyst pointed out, because more people are watching television
in September than they are in June.
Dr. Phil was No. 1 in 35 of the top metered markets and it was up six
share points from its lead-in and its year-ago time period average. (Syndicators
are comparing year-to-year averages with October 2001 because of pre-emptions
related to the events of last September.)
Besides strong national recognition for its star, Dr. Phil benefits
from good clearances on strong stations and a guarantee of no competition from
its talk benefactor, Oprah.
"If there was ever a situation you wanted to create to guarantee a highly
rated show, this is it," one analyst said.
Dr. Phil did its best ratings in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In the
top two markets, New York and Los Angeles, the show didn't fare as well
as it did in the rest of the country, coming in fourth in its time period in New
York with a 3.2/8 and second in its time period in L.A. with a 3.5/9.
In a big week for syndicated premieres, four other shows also came online
this week: The Rob Nelson Show, Beyond with James Van Praagh,
Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Pyramid.
The picture wasn't so sunny for the other two talkers on this week's agenda,
with Twentieth TV's Rob Nelson garnering a 1.2/4 in 50 metered markets
and Tribune Broadcasting's James Van Praagh showing a 0.8/3.
Both Nelson and Van Praagh were down one share point from their
lead-ins and from comparable time slots one year ago. Nelson launchedin 50 metered markets, while Van Praagh debuted in 47. Both are cleared mostly in daytime.
As for the game shows, Buena Vista's Who Wants to be a Millionaire
was the standout, with debut numbers of 3.1/7 in 44 metered markets, down one
share point from its lead-in and even with its year-ago time period average.
Sony Pictures Entertainment's Pyramid averaged a 2.1/5 in 51 metered markets, although it got
a boost in its first day after Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV-TV aired Pyramid
at 8 p.m. and garnered a 7.8/12, winning its time period. Pyramid
will regularly air in Detroit at 11 a.m., where it scored a