Syndication Ratings: Lack of Olympics Puts Chill on February Sweep

'Dr. Phil,' 'Live,' 'Wendy Williams' buck trend among talkers
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The results of this year’s February sweep are tough to gauge since NBC’s broadcast of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, aired during half the sweep last year, but most shows were down year to year. The February sweep ran from January 29 through Feb. 25.

Among the talkers, CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil won its 10th consecutive major sweep with a 3.6 live plus same day household rating average, according to Nielsen Media Research. This marked the highest February sweep ratings for Phil since 2008 and a gain of 3% over last year. In addition, Phil led among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, averaging a 1.8.

Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael also had a strong sweep, clocking the show’s biggest February ratings in eight years with 6% growth from last year to a 3.3.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres declined 6% from last year to a third place 3.0. Ellen airs on NBC owned stations in major markets and factored out of the ten weekdays of the Olympic Games, which represented half the sweep.

NBCUniversal's Steve Harvey and Maury rounded out the top five with each show averaging a 2.1. Harvey, in its third season, held steady with last February and rose 31% from two years ago. Like Ellen, Harvey airs on NBC owned stations in top markets. Maury dipped 5%.

In sixth place, Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams improved 19% to a 1.9, that show’s all-time best February sweeps in households.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz, also in its sixth season, declined the most of any talk show, dropping 35% from last February to an all- time February low 1.5, after being battered by negative publicity and heavily downgraded at the start of last season.

CTD’s Rachael Ray and NBCU’s Steve Wilkos both eased 6% to a 1.5, tying Dr. Oz. NBCU’s Jerry Springer and CTD’s The Doctors, as both held steady at a 1.4 and 1.2, respectively.

SPT’s Queen Latifah tumbled 17% to a 1.0, and will end its run at the end of this month. Meredith’s The Better Show, which will fade out at the end of the season, was unchanged at a 0.2.

CTD’s panel court show, Hot Bench, continued to lead the first-run rookies, all of whom have been renewed for second seasons. Hot Bench showed the biggest increase in households over its September premiere week, shooting up 38% to a 1.8.

Debmar-Mercury’s Celebrity Name Game gained 27% since September to a second-place 1.4. Warner Bros.’ The Real rose 30% to a 1.3 in households for third place, but led among women 25-54 with a 1.0, a gain of 25% since September.

NBCU’s Meredith Vieira dropped from its 1.3 opening week household rating, losing 8% to a 1.2. Trifecta’s Judge Faith finished up 14% at a 0.8.

Court shows were mostly down. CTD’s Judge Judy, the host of which just renewed her contract through 2020, scored a 7.3, slipping 9% from last year.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court shrank 10% to a 1.8. Twentieth’s Divorce Court dropped 11% to a 1.6. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis sagged 12% to a 1.5, while MGM’s sophomore, Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, bucked the trend, spiking 18% to a 1.3.

Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud had game’s biggest increase over last February, leaping 17% to a 6.8 in households. Meanwhile, Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire had the biggest and only decline in the category, skidding 14% to a 1.9. At the top of both the games, and overall syndication, CTD’s Wheel of Fortune improved 3% to a 7.6. Next in line, CTD’s Jeopardy! answered with a 7.4, up 6%. 

Elsewhere, MGM’s video variety show RightThisMinute grew 33% to a 1.6, with sharply improved clearances this season.

CTD’s Entertainment Tonight continued to lead the magazines for the 97th sweep in a row — or more than 24 years — improving 5% to a 3.9. CTD’s Inside Edition rallied 10% to a 3.4. Warner Bros.’ TMZ added 5% to a 2.2. NBCU’s Access Hollywood and Warner Bros.’ Extra, both of which saw huge gains last year as a result of airing prior to the Olympics in primetime, saw drop-off this year. Access Hollywood lost 5% to a 2.0 and Extra eased 11% to a 1.7. CTD’s The Insider held steady at a 1.4.

The traditional entertainment magazines were given an assist in the final days of the sweep with coverage of the 87th annual Academy Awards.

On Monday, Feb. 23, ET jumped 15% from the prior week to a 4.5. Access Hollywood grew 5% to a 2.0. Extra shot up 19% to a 1.9. The Insider spiked 31% to a 1.7. Inside Edition and TMZ, neither of which are traditional entertainment magazines, had mixed results following the Oscars, with Inside Edition growing 3% to a 3.5, and TMZ declining 9% to a 2.0.

Back in the sweep, Twentieth’s Dish Nation was steady compared to last February at a 1.1, while Trifecta’s OK! TV climbed 50% from a 0.2 to a 0.3.

The top-tier sitcoms were all down. Warner Bros.’ leader The Big Bang Theory dipped 3% to a 6.4 in its fourth season. Twentieth’s Modern Family eroded 22% to a 3.8 in year two. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men moved 20% lower to a 3.2 in its eighth year. Twentieth’s Family Guy, also in season eight, slumped 17% to a 2.5, tying Warner Bros.’ freshman Mike & Molly. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother was flat at a 2.3 in year five. SPT’s Seinfeld strengthened 16% in year 20 to a 2.2. Twentieth’s sophomore, The Cleveland Show, was unchanged at a 1.9. Also in its second season, Warner Bros.’ The Middle gained 20% to a 1.8, while Twentieth’s King of the Hill climbed 6% to a 1.7 in year 14.

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