Syndication Ratings: Pope’s Visit Drops Viewership for Syndies

Average TV Audience Down by More than 5.8M

In a week marked by papal pre-emptions and viewership declines, CBS’ top talker, Oprah, saw its ratings dip 2% to a 4.6 live-plus-same-day national household rating for the week ending April 20 and 21% for the past two weeks, according to Nielsen Media Research, after scoring a ratings high with its April 3 episode featuring the so-called pregnant man.

That left Oprah vulnerable, with CBS’ Judge Judy -- on a certifiable roll for the season -- beating Oprah in households with a 4.7. This marks the fourth time Judy has beaten Oprah in the weekly household ratings since Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, CBS’ Dr. Phil narrowed the gap between him and his one-time mentor, scoring a 4.2, up just 2% on the week. Oprah’s next big shows come Friday, May 2, and Monday, May 5, when Winfrey does a two-day interview with movie star Tom Cruise. Cruise’s last visit with the talk-show queen became infamous after Cruise jumped up and down on her in-studio couch, oddly proclaiming his love for then-girlfriend/now-wife Katie Holmes.

Most syndies struggled for the week due to TV audiences dropping by more than 5.8 million average viewers over the past month. Meanwhile, many shows were pre-empted due to coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s first U.S. visit.

Accordingly, the rest of the talkers’ ratings were mostly down, although CBS’ Rachael Ray joined Phil in providing a bright spot, jumping 6% to a 1.8. Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly tied its season low, dropping 4% to a 2.6. Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres slipped 5% to a 2.1.

NBC Universal’s Maury fell 11% to a new season low 1.6. CBS’ Montel Williams and NBCU’s Jerry Springer each were flat at a 1.3 and 1.1, respectively. Twentieth Television’s rookie, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, pre-empted in 11 of the top 50 markets on one or more days due to papal coverage, fell 9% to a 1.0. That tied Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks, which also fell 9%. NBCU’s Martha Stewart, also pre-empted in some large markets, dropped 10% to a 0.9, tying NBCU rookie Steve Wilkos, which was flat.

In court, Judge Judy not only beat Oprah, but also climbed 4% for the week. Judy also was the only first-run strip to improve over last year at this time, growing 9%. CBS’ Judge Joe Brown, in distant second, was flat at a 2.4. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court dropped 4% to a new season-low 2.2. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis jumped 6% to a 1.9. Twentieth’s Divorce Court -- which will kick off May sweeps with a two-part episode featuring former child star Gary Coleman and his 22-year-old bride -- fell 6% to a 1.7. That tied Twentieth’s Judge Alex, which improved 6%.

Sony’s Judge Hatchett and Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court each were flat at a 1.2. Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez climbed 13% to a 0.9, tying Sony’s rookie, Judge David Young, which was flat. Radar Entertainment’s Jury Duty brought up the rear, unchanged at a 0.3.

Longer days are taking their toll on access magazines, as well, with only two shows up for the week: CBS’ The Insider and Warner Bros.’ Extra.

Insider was up 5% to a 2.1 after scoring a 15% boost to a 2.3 for a show featuring an April 17 report on Tom Cruise’s marriage. That put Insider in a three-way tie with NBCU’s Access Hollywood, which fell 5%, and rookie leader TMZ, which was flat. Extra rose 6% to a 1.7. Meanwhile, genre leader Entertainment Tonight dipped 2% to a 4.2 and perennial No. 2 CBS’ Inside Edition fell 6% to a 2.9.

The game shows were mostly flat to lower, with CBS’ Wheel of Fortune, syndication’s top-rated show, falling 5% to a 7.1. CBS’ Jeopardy! lost 3% to a 6.0. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire climbed 4% to a 2.8, after tying its season low the prior week. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud was flat at a 1.8, as was Program Partners’ rookie, Merv Griffin’s Crosswords, at a 0.8. Fellow newcomer, Twentieth’s Temptation, jumped 25% to a 0.5.

Finally, CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond, the long-time comedy-genre leader, continued its downward trend, falling 6% to hit a new season low 3.4 for fourth place. Warner Bros.’ rookie leader, Two and a Half Men, was flat at a 5.0, followed by Twentieth’s newcomer, Family Guy, at a 4.2. Third place went to Sony’s veteran, Seinfeld, up 3% to a 3.9. Following Raymond, Warner Bros.’ George Lopez dropped 6% to a 3.1. Sony’s King of Queens improved 4% to a 2.9, while Warner Bros.’ Friends was flat at a 2.7.