Syndication Ratings: Nothing Can Stop Ratings Juggernaut Judge Judy

Show hits highest ratings in 11 years, beating everything in syndication
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In the first full week of the February sweeps, CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy dwarfed everything in syndication, hitting an 8.6 live plus same day national household rating. That’s the show’s highest rating since the week of Jan. 20, 2003, more than a decade ago, and the biggest number for any first-run syndicated show in nearly six years, since the week of March 3, 2008.

In the week ended Feb. 9, two other daytime shows also surged to multi-year highs: CTD’s Dr. Phil and Disney/ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael.

The top magazines mostly stayed at last week’s high levels, following the tragic death of celebrated actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but most other shows drifted slightly downward as levels of people using television slipped from the prior week by more than one million viewers and the Sochi Winter Olympics got underway on NBC-owned cable networks and in primetime.

Clocking a number equal to all of the five other individually-rated court shows combined, Judy jumped 5% from the prior week, and 15% from last year at this time. Judy also was the number-one show in syndication for the 22nd time in the last 24 weeks. including ties.

Things were not so rosy for the rest of the court docket. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was flat at a 2.1. Twentieth’s Divorce Court dropped 10% to a 1.8, tying the already-canceled Judge Alex, which was flat. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis sank 11% to a 1.7 and MGM’s renewed Paternity Court trailed at a flat 1.2.

In talk, only four of the 18 talkers gained from the prior week. Dr. Phil scored its biggest ratings in five years, gaining 5% for the week and 24% from last year at this time to a 4.1, the show’s highest rating since the week of Feb. 23, 2009. That topped the category for the fifth straight week and the 24th time in the past 27 weeks. This also marks only the second time since the end of the Oprah era in 2010-11 that any talk show has broken the 4.0 ratings barrier. Phil ranked first among women 25-54 with a 2.3 in daytime’s key demo.

Similarly, Live had its best week since Regis Philbin’s grand finale in November 2011, the other time a talker rose higher than a 4.0, advancing 6% for the week and 29% from last year at this time to a 3.6. Only two other talk shows improved for the week: Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, which picked up 6% to a 1.7, matching its series high, and growing 31% from last year; and NBCUniversal’s sophomore, Trisha, which hit a new series-high 0.7, up 17% from the prior week’s 0.6, and up 40% from last year at this time.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen, Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz and NBCUniversal’s Maury all were steady at a 3.3, 2.4 and 2.3, respectively. Maury also hit a new season high among women 25-54, growing 7% to a 1.6 in the demo. NBCU’s sophomore star Steve Harvey dipped 5% from its series high in the previous week to a 2.1, but was still up 31% from last year at this time.

Disney/ABC’s Katie, which will end its run after this season, also lost 5% to a 1.8.

CTD’s Rachael Ray was unchanged at its season-high 1.7, as was NBCU’s Steve Wilkos at its season-high 1.6. NBCU’s Jerry Springer and CTD’s The Doctors also both remained at their season-high 1.4s. Meredith’s The Better Show was flat at a 0.2.

Among the rookies, SPT’s Queen Latifah slipped 8% to a 1.2. Warner Bros.’ Bethenny, which won’t make it to season two, and CTD’s The Test each were flat at a 1.0 and a 0.7, respectively. CTD’s Arsenio Hall held steady at a 0.7.

Most of the top-tier magazines held or exceeded their previous season highs. CTD’s Entertainment Tonight remained at its season-high 4.1, gaining 2% from last year. CTD’s Inside Edition was up 9% for the week and 3% for the year to a new season-high 3.5. Warner Bros.’ TMZ fell 5% to a 2.1 and was flat year to year. NBCU’s Access Hollywood, which began its Sochi coverage during this week, accelerated to a new season high, growing 5% for the week and 11% from last year to tie TMZ at a 2.1. Warner Bros.’ Extra held steady at its four-year high 1.9 for a second straight week and improved 19% from last year, the most of any magazine. CTD’s The Insider dipped 6% from its season high to a 1.5, steady with last year.

Elsewhere, MGM’s RightThisMinute, which has started a late-fringe cable run on HLN, fell 15% to a 1.1, tying Twentieth’s sophomore Dish Nation, which rose 10%. Trifecta’s America Now, which will end its run after this season, lost 20% to a 0.4. Trifecta’s rookie OK! TV increased 50% from a 0.2 to a 0.3.

Among the game shows, CTD’s leader Wheel of Fortune dipped 4% from the prior week to a 7.6. CTD’s Jeopardy! inched up 1% to a 7.3. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud faded 5% to a still-stellar 6.0. Disney/ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which had suffered a double-digit decline in the prior week, recovered 9% to a 2.4, but was still down 8% from last year.

Among the off-net sitcoms, Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory upticked 1% from the prior week to a new season-high 7.0, down 13% from the same week last year. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men dipped 2% to a 4.0. Twentieth’s Family Guy climbed 3% to a 3.1. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother, nearing the end of its primetime run on CBS, was unchanged at a 2.3. Warner Bros.’ Friends fell 5% to a 1.9, tying SPT’s Seinfeld which spiked 6%. SPT’s Rules of Engagement and Twentieth’s King of the Hill both were flat at a 1.7 and 1.6, respectively.

Twentieth’s Modern Family continued to lead the rookie off-nets, hitting a new season-high 5.2, up 2% from the previous frame. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show was flat at a 1.9. Warner Bros.’ The Middle dropped 6% to a 1.6, while SPT’s Community dropped 20% from its season high 0.5 to a 0.4.

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