The first week of the May sweeps did not bring much good news in the syndication world, as just two of 30 first-run syndication strips posted week-to-week gains, according to the live-plus-same-day household ratings for the week ending May 7.
The ratings suffered as People Using Television (PUT) levels fell for the sixth straight week, not uncommon for this time of year, as the days grow longer and the weather improves. PUT levels fell by an average of 573,000 viewers for the week, and have dropped 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, gaining 6% to average a 3.3. The show was buoyed by a May 4 appearance by Judge Judy Scheindlin. However, the show was actually down 8% from last year at this time, when an appearance by booted American Idol Constantine Maroulis paced the show to a big week.
Talk-show leader Oprah 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 the news broke of the 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 both on 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% for the year to a 1.7.
The newsmagazine genre was mostly down year-over-year, as it was one year ago when the entertainment world was wrapped up in 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 the 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, while Extra was even on the week but down 9% on the year to a 2.1.
In court, not one show posted weekly gains. Despite its star helping Regis and Kelly to its strong week, 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% both on the week and the year to a 2.6, Divorce Court fell 4% on the week and 7% on the year to a 2.5, and Judge Mathis held steady on the week but lost 4% on the year to a 2.3.
The news was no better in game shows, where everything was down or flat on the week. Wheel of Fortune averaged a 7.8, down 3% on the week and 6% on the year, while Jeopardy! averaged a 6.4, flat on the week but off 1% year-over-year. Who Wants to be a Millionaire was off 3% on the week and the year to a 3.1, while Family Feud was flat on the week but dropped 5% on the year to a 2.0.