Last year, King World's Dr. Phil
premiered to the highest ratings that syndication had seen since the 1986 debut of The Oprah Winfrey Show. This year, Dr. Phil
is doing even better.
In the November sweeps, the talk show improved its performance over last year by 27%, from 4.5 to 5.6. It scored its highest national rating ever, a 7.2, on Nov. 6 with a show in which Dr. Phil McGraw intervened with a family whose son was addicted to drugs.
Helping improve the ratings were the upgrades the show received after its first season. Dr. Phil
runs predominantly in early fringe, but it also airs in access on Post-Newsweek's WKMG-TV Orlando, Fla., and in prime time in Young's KRON-TV San Francisco, Belo's KTVK-TV Phoenix and Post-Newsweek's WJXT-TV Jacksonville, Fla.
In Orlando, Dr. Phil
has improved the 7 p.m. time slot by 93% over King World's Hollywood Squares
and Buena Vista's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire
always has been in prime time in San Francisco but has improved 27% year-to-year at 8 p.m. In Phoenix, it replaced King World's Wheel of Fortune
and eked out a 7% improvement. In Jacksonville at 9 p.m., it has improved the station's performance by 12%. Last year, Jacksonville was an NBC affiliate; this year, it's an independent.
"This is a rare program in its ability to work in unconventional time periods," says Moira Coffey, King World's senior vice president of research. "You can't just pick any talk show and have it run in prime time."
Although upgrades are boosting its national ratings, its content has kept the audience coming back.
Besides the intervention episodes, at the beginning of the season, the show selected a troubled family to follow and advise and launched the Ultimate Weight Challenge, coinciding with the publication of McGraw's best-selling book, in which he chronicles several people's efforts to lose weight.