The return of troubled host Pat O'Brien to syndicated tabmag Insider on Thursday, May 5, sent the show's ratings to their highest levels in two months.
Insider, The season's top-rated rookie strip averaged a 2.8 for the week ending May 8, up 8% from the week before, which had already been up 13% from the week before that thanks to interviews with O'Brien in anticipation of his return after rehab for alcohol abuse.
Ratings for most of the other syndicated shows were slightly lower in the first week of the May sweeps as temperatures moved higher and average HUT (homes using television) levels declined from the prior week by 1.09 million households, or about 3%, as more people got out of their huts and away from their sets to enjoy the warmer temperatures
For example, only three of 13 talk shows were up week-to-week: Oprah, Live with Regis & Kelly and Ellen Degeneres. Oprah was up 8% to an 8.0 and up 16% from the same week last year.
Live, the third highest rated talker, got a boost from American Idol singer Constantine Maroulis, who had been voted off the talent show in a shocker.
For the week, Live scored a 3.6, up 3% and up 6% from last year. The ratings high point for the week was the May 2 Regis & Kelly (& Constantine) show, which scored a 4.0.
Ellen was up 10% to a 2.2, and up 16% year to year.
Finishing in second behind Oprah was Dr. Phil, down 4% from the week before to a 5,5, but up 2% from last year.
Elsewhere, though none of the court or game shows were up, the entrainment and news magazines were strong for a second straight week.
Entertainment Tonight was atop the pack per usual, steady at a 5.0, which was even with last year.
Inside Edition was also even with last week's 3.3 for second, up 6% from last year. Freshman Insider was third, followed by Access Hollywood at a 2.7, up 8% from the week before but down 7% from last year.
Extra at a 2.3, was up 10% week to week, though down 12% year to year, while Celebrity Justice, which earned a 1.0, was unchanged week to week, down 17% from last year, and is now canceled, though it will finish out the current season.
The revival of A Current Affair, which returned to syndication in March after nine years, continues to underperform its lead-in and year-ago time period averages, although the show is still in a limited-market rollout, with a full-blown launch not expected until next year.
From March 21 through May 13, Affair had a 2.7 rating/5 share weighted average for metered-market primary runs, which was down 25% and two share points from its average lead-in of a 3.6/7 and down 16% from the year ago time period average of a 3.2/6.
On the upside, the syndicator points to some individual success stories in several major markets, including Dallas (3.4), Atlanta (5.4), Cleveland (4.4), and St. Louis (4.1).
The top three sitcoms and the rookie off-net strips were all lower.
Everybody Loves Raymond was down 2% to a 6.4; Seinfeld was down 2% to a 5.6; and Friends dipped 4% to a 5.2.
Malcom led all rookies, but was down 9% to a 2.9; Yes Dear was down 11% to a 1.7; Fear Factor faded 11% to a 1.6; and Girlfriends slipped 13% to a 1.4. On the weekend, CSI was up 2% to a 5.3.