Judge Judy ruled over all of syndication in the week ended May 5, the first full week of the May sweep, returning to the top spot and beating Warner Bros.' The Big Bang Theory for the first time since November.
Dr. Phil and Ellen also had good weeks, with both shows gaining. That's more than can be said for any other talkers, with every other show flat or down as levels of people using television plunged as spring finally showed up around the country.
CBS Television Distribution's talk leader Dr. Phil surged 10% from the prior session to a 3.3 live plus same day national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, growing 14% from last year at this time. That's Phil's highest rating since the week of Feb. 24, enabling the show to open up a large early lead in the May sweep. Dr. Phil also improved the most year to year of any talk show and was the talk leader among daytime's key demographic of women 25-54 at a 2.1.
Also in the plus column was Warner Bros.' Ellen, which tied Disney-ABC's Live! with Kelly and Michael for second place, adding 4% to a 2.5, while Live! dipped 4% for the week. Meanwhile, both Ellen and Live! jumped 9%from last year.
In fourth place, Sony Pictures Television's Dr. Oz also lost 4% to a 2.3.
NBCUniversal's Maury fell 5% to a 2.0, but made it 100 weeks in a row as the top talker among women 18-34, adults 18-34 and adults 18-49. This week, Maury celebrated its 2,500th episode.
CTD's Rachael Ray retreated 13% to a 1.4. CTD's The Doctors and NBCU's Steve Wilkos each eased 7% to a 1.3, tying NBCU's Jerry Springer, which was flat.
Debmar-Mercury's Wendy Williams weakened 8% to a 1.2. Warner Bros.' Anderson Live and Debmar-Mercury's Jeremy Kyle, both ending their runs, followed with a 0.9 and a 0.4, respectively.
Meredith's The Better Show, now nationally rated, was flat at a last-place 0.2.
The rookie race remained tight, with only a tenth of a ratings point separating Disney-ABC's Katie from NBCU's Steve Harvey for the second straight week. Katie, which has held the household lead every week since its debut, and challenger Harvey, each dropped 6% to a 1.6 and a 1.5, respectively. Among women 25-54, however, Harvey topped Katie for the fifth time in the past seven weeks, including two ties. Harvey dipped 10% to a 0.9 in the demo, while Katie fell 11% to a 0.8.
NBCU's Trisha was flat at a 0.6 in households, tying CTD's and Twentieth's already-cancelled Jeff Probst and Ricki Lake.
Elsewhere in daytime, NBCU's Access Hollywood Live climbed 13% from the prior week to a 0.9 rating/3 share in its 13 metered markets, with a 22% increase in top market New York to a 1.1 rating/4 share.
CTD's Judge Judy was the court and syndication queen, holding steady at a 6.8, a bigger rating than the next four court shows combined.
CTD's Judge Joe Brown, nearing the end of its run, fell 5% to a 2.1. Warner Bros.' People's Court softened 6% to a 1.7, while its Judge Mathis eroded 7% to a 1.4. Twentieth's Judge Alex and Divorce Court, and Entertainment Studios' America's Court, Justice for All and We the People all were unchanged at a 1.3, 1.2, 0.7, 0.4 and 0.2, respectively.
Magazines were mostly stable. CTD's leaders Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition both held firm at a 3.6 and 3.0, respectively. Warner Bros.' TMZ, which was the prior session's only gainer, gave back 5% to a 1.9. NBCU's Access Hollywood was steady at a 1.7. Warner Bros.' Extra yielded 7% to a 1.4. CTD's new omg! Insider was flat at a 1.4. Twentieth's rookie, Dish Nation, improved 10% to a 1.1.
Also in access, CTD's Wheel of Fortune was flat for the week at a 6.5. CTD's Jeopardy! inched up 2% to a 6.0. Debmar-Mercury's Family Feud held at a 4.6. Disney-ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire lost 4% to a 2.3, while NBCU's rookie Baggage stayed locked at a 1.1 for the third week in a row.
Warner Bros.' top sitcom The Big Bang Theory sagged 7% from the prior week to a 6.5, tying CTD's Wheel of Fortune for second place in syndication. Warner Bros.' Two and a Half Men dropped 6% to a new season-low 4.4. Twentieth's Family Guy grew 3% to a 3.3, while its How I Met Your Mother moved up 4% to a 2.4. Twentieth's King of the Hill declined 4% to a 2.2., tying SPT's Seinfeld, which improved 5%. Warner Bros.' Friends faded 5% to a 2.0, while CTD's Everybody Loves Raymond remained at a 1.8.