Ratings for syndicated shows, many of which were in repeats, moved lower for the week ending March 20, But this week should probably carry an asterisk with a big caveat: NCAA basketball accounted for a whopping 36 hours of pre-emptions.
Those were all on CBS affiliates, so not all shows were affected equally by March Madness. But when they were, it was dramatic.
For example, Dr. Phil was down 20% from the week before to a 4.8 rating, with a repeat of the show coming within a tenth of its lowest rating of the season. Oprah, also in repeats, did have its lowest-rated week of the season, down 13% to a 6.1.
In third place, Live with Regis and Kelly was down 3% to a 3.5, but still had the biggest year-to-year increase among the top five talk shows, up 13% from last year. Maury was up 10% to a 3.3, and Montel, rounding out the top five, was up 4% to a 2.5.
In a week where a small drop was a big victory, Judge Judy did well to only drop 2% to a 5.1 after losing its primary telecast in three of the top 6 markets March 17 and 18 to basketball,
Judge Joe Brown, the only court show to improve, was up 3% to a 3.5. Divorce Court was unchanged at a 2.8 and People's Court and Judge Mathis tied for fourth at a 2.6, with People's Court losing 4% and Mathis unchanged.
There was also a photo finish in late night, where the only two remaining dating shows finished neck and neck (or should that be "necking and necking"). Blind Date was down 15% to a 1.1, tying Elimidate, which was flat.
Year to year, Blind Date was down 27% and Elimidate down 15%.
In rookie news, The Insider had no trouble keeping its top rated newcomer status despite basketball preemptions in four of the top five markets for two days, slipping 15% to a 2.3. Meanwhile, the show's weekly version, Insider Weekend, was up 29% to a 1.8.
The second highest rated surviving rookie, Tony Danza-- in repeats all week-- also lost 15% to a 1.1. Ambush Makeover was down 9% to a 1.0, and Larry Elder was unchanged at a .9. Low-rated rookies Pat Croce and Life & Style have reportedly ended production and will not be back next season. Premiere to date, Croce has averaged a 0.7, while Life & Style managed only a 0.5.