Syndication Ratings: Sweep Shows Sitcom Slump

Every Off-Network Sitcom Drops Year-to-Year; Rookies Hold Strong

The results of the November sweep are in and aging off-network sitcoms continue to struggle: All of them plunged year-to-year.

Genre leader CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond dropped 17% from last November to a 4.4 national live-plus-same-day household rating for the sweep, according to Nielsen Media Research. The year before, the seven-year veteran fell 18% year-to-year.

Sony’s Seinfeld, in season 13, dropped 11% to a 4.0 sweep average after losing 20% in November 2006. Sony’s King of Queens, in season five, fell 9% to a 3.0, although the show picked up 18% last year due to additional cable runs. Warner Bros.’ Friends, in its 10th season, was down 22% to a 2.9 after falling 31% in the prior year.

The news was better for the rookie off-network sitcoms, with Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men averaging a 4.6, Twentieth’s Family Guy a 4.3 and Warner Bros.’ George Lopez a 2.7. Two and a Half Men is up 53% from its September debut, while Family Guy and Lopez increased 23%.

Overall, CBS’ Judge Judy and CBS’ Inside Edition were the only two first-run strips to increase year-to-year, with Judy -- one of the few syndicated shows to hold its ratings over the past five years -- climbing 4% to a 5.0 and Inside Edition jumping 6% to a 3.6.

All of the talk shows were down except for two: CBS’ Rachael Ray and Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres, which are walking in lockstep. The two shows tied for fourth place at a 2.1 in national households, both staying even with last November. In the metered markets, both shows were up 10% to a 2.3 rating/7 share weighted-metered-market average for all runs.

The top talk show continues to be CBS’ The Oprah Winfrey Show, averaging a 6.3, although down 11% from last year. CBS’ Dr. Phil ran second with a 5.1. While that’s off 9% from last year, it’s up 6% sweep-to-sweep in the 56 metered markets. Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly remained in third place at a 3.1, down 11% from last year. NBC Universal’s Maury was No. 6 at a 2.0, down 17%, but up 7% in the metered markets.

CBS’ Montel Williams averaged a 1.6, down 6%. NBCU’s Jerry Springer came in at a 1.4, down 18%. Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks, which lost some time periods this year, fell 27% to a 1.1. NBCU’s Martha Stewart, renewed for season three, dropped 21% to a 1.1.

Among all rookies, Warner Bros. access magazine TMZ was the highest-rated strip overall, with a 1.9 rating for the sweep, down 5% from its September debut.

Among the rookies that air in daytime, Twentieth’s newcomer The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet was up 13% from its September national debut to a 0.9 average in November. That tied Sony’s Judge David Young, also up 13% from September, and NBCU’s Steve Wilkos, which held even with its premiere week and was the only new first-run strip to hold its lead-in and year-ago time periods in the metered markets.

Program Partners’ Merv Griffin’s Crosswords at a 0.8 and Twentieth’s Temptation at a 0.5 sweep average were both even with their premiere weeks. Radar Entertainment’s Jury Duty remained at a 0.2.

Last November, the magazines all surged due to three stories: Britney Spears’ divorce from Kevin Federline, Tom Cruise’s Italian wedding to Katie Holmes and Michael Richards’ racist rant at a Los Angeles comedy club.

Without any major stories this year, CBS’ Entertainment Tonight remained the leader for the 69th consecutive sweep at a 5.3, off 5% nationally but up 6% in the metered markets. CBS’ Inside Edition was in second place at a 3.6. CBS’ The Insider at a 2.6 was off 4% year-to-year but up 14% on WCBS New York, the No. 1 market, giving the station’s 7 p.m. time period its best November sweep rating in seven years. The Insider moved production to Manhattan in September.

NBCU’s AccessHollywood tied The Insider for third place, falling 4% year-to-year. Warner Bros.’ Extra -- which lost its access time slot in New York and a few other key markets -- plunged 22% to a 1.8, taking last place in the genre.

None of the game shows was up, although declines were minimal. CBS’ Wheel of Fortune slipped 6% from last November to an 8.1. CBS’ Jeopardy! dipped 1% to a 6.7. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire dropped 9% to a 3.0. And Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud was flat at a 1.8.

In court, Judge Judy remained the leader at a 5.0. CBS’ Judge Joe Brown lost 7% to a 2.8. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court slid 11% to a 2.5. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis tumbled 12% to a 2.2. Twentieth’s Divorce Court and Judge Alex tied at a 1.9, losing 10% and 5%, respectively. Sony’s Judge Hatchett declined 13% to a 1.4. Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court and Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez each were unchanged at a 1.3 and 0.9, respectively.