Syndication Ratings: New Shows Decent

The Doctors posts best talk-show debut since CBS' Rachael Ray premiered in 2006.

CBS’ The Doctors can boast that it scored the highest rating of any rookie on syndication’s opening day.

The Doctors, cleared in morning time slots on CBS stations in the country’s largest markets, averaged a 1.6 rating/4 share weighted-metered-market household average for all telecasts. That’s the best talk-show debut since CBS’ Rachael Ray premiered in 2006 at a 2.8/9.

The Doctors got off to a better start than any metered market premiere last season, including last year’s first-run rookie star: Warner Bros.’ access magazine, TMZ.

While The Doctors was syndication’s top-rated rookie, it was still down 11% from its 1.8/5 lead-in and down 16% from its 1.9/6 year-ago time period.

Among top markets, The Doctors performed best in Chicago on Weigel Broadcasting-owned independent WCIU, where it scored a 2.1/4 at 5 p.m. That’s up 40% from last year, when WCIU ran various sitcoms in that time slot. The Doctors got plenty of extra promotional punch on WCIU because the station is competing to win extra promotional dollars from CBS come November as a result of a contest CBS is running for show affiliates.

Warner Bros.’ Bonnie Hunt, also debuting Monday, averaged a 1.1/4, down 21% from its 1.4/5 lead-in but even with its year-ago time-period average. Bonnie was particularly strong in Dallas, improving 100% over last year to a 1.4/5 on NBC-owned KXAS at 11 a.m.

Among the show’s key demographic of women 25-54, Bonnie averaged a 0.6 rating/4 share in 16 Local People Meter markets, up 20% from its 0.5 average lead-in. In the 10 LPM markets with September 2007 ratings averages, Bonnie averaged a 0.5/3, up 25% from last year.

NBC’s Deal or No Deal opened with a 1.4/3, making it the highest-rated game-show premiere since Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which opened at a 3.1 national household rating in 2002. Overall, Deal was down 13% from its 1.5 rating/4 share lead-in and down 7% from its 1.4/3 year-ago time-period average.

Deal or No Deal got off to a very strong start in syndication, improving time periods from coast to coast, including seven of the top 10 markets,” said Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic Television. “It also retained almost all of its lead-in, which was for the most part, not a game-show audience. And most important, it grew nearly 10% on the quarter-hour, which is a key benchmark of success, and Deal was the only new syndicated series to show quarter-hour growth."

Deal, hosted by Howie Mandel, did particularly well on NBC-owned WMAQ Chicago, where it jumped 400% at noon to a 1.5/5 over last season’s mish-mash of Access Hollywood repeats, Martha Stewart and Entertainment Studios’ RecipeTV. In New York, the nation’s No. 1 market, the show grew its year-ago time period 114% on NBC’s flagship station, WNBC.

Overall on the NBC-owned stations, Deal or No Deal improved the group’s year-ago performance by 58%.

As for the new court shows, Program Partners’ Family Court with Judge Penny averaged a 0.9/3, even with its lead-in and up 13% from its year-ago time-period average of 0.8/3.

Sony’s Judge Karen opened at a 0.8/2, off 11% from its 0.9/3 lead-in and down 20% from its 1.0/3 year-ago time-period average.

Several rookies still are scheduled to debut. Debmar-Mercury’s Trivial Pursuit: America Plays and House of Payne open Sept. 22, while Litton Entertainment’s Storm Stories premieres Sept. 29.

Many returning shows also premiered Monday.

CBS’ Oprah, syndication’s top talk show, opened its 23rd season with a 3.6 rating/9 share with a premiere that featured 100 Olympic Games athletes, including Michael Phelps and basketball superstar Kobe Bryant. That was up 44% from the show’s average lead-in of 2.5/6 and up 3% from its September 2007 average of 3.5/10.

Oprah was pre-empted in some markets due to U.S. Open tennis coverage, although those pre-emptions are not included in weighted-metered-market averages and, thus, have no effect on a show’s rating.

The No. 2 talker, CBS’ Dr. Phil, opened at a 2.5/6, up 25% from its 2.0/5 lead-in although off 4% from the show’s September 2007 time-period average.

Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly, which began its 25th season a week earlier, averaged a 2.6/10, down 13% from its 3.0/11 lead-in and down 10% from last September’s 2.9/11 time-period average.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen, entering season six with a premiere featuring Michelle Obama, averaged 2.6/7, up 53% from its lead-in of 1.7/5 and up 63% from its September year-ago time period.

Rounding out the top-five talkers, CBS’ Rachael Ray opened its third season at a 1.9/7, up 6% from both its 1.8/6 lead-in and its year-ago time-period average.

Ratings averages are based on an all-telecast household average of weighted metered markets, which includes late-night and other secondary runs. Weighted-metered-market ratings averages dilute the typically reported average audience (AA) ratings, which count only primary telecasts.