Syndication Ratings: Syndies No Match for March Madness

Leaders 'Dr. Phil,' 'Judge Judy' take hits in tourney's wake, 'Live' leads talkers
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The NCAA college men’s basketball tournament shook up syndication in the week ending March 23, as numerous games on CBS stations and on cable preempted some shows and presented stronger-than-usual competition to others.

Although most talk shows were steady to higher, CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil—which has a majority of its major market clearances on CBS owned and affiliated stations, and went into reruns on four of the five days—slipped 18% from the prior week to a 2.7 live-plus-same day Nielsen household rating to tie Warner Bros.’ Ellen for second place. Ellen, in originals all week, improved 4% from the prior week.

Disney/ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael topped the talk list for the fourth time since January, including ties, holding steady at a 2.9, even though the show aired repackaged episodes on three of the five days. Despite the repeats, Live was up 16% and Dr. Phil grew 13% compared to last year at this time.

NBCU’s Maury climbed 10% to a 2.2. Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz held firm at a 2.0. NBU’s sophomore Steve Harvey spiked 6% to a 1.9. Disney/ABC’s Katie was unchanged at its season-low 1.5 for the second week in a row.

NBCU’s Steve Wilkos tied Katie, jumping 15% for the week and the year. On Monday, March 31, a second run of Wilkos started airing at 4 p.m. on Tribune’s WPIX New York, replacing a third run of Maury. Wilkos also airs at noon on the station.

CTD’s Rachael Ray remained at a 1.4, tying Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams. NBCU’s Jerry Springer spurted 18% to a 1.3, while CTD’s The Doctors, NBCU’s Trisha and Meredith’s The Better Show all were unchanged at a 1.2, 0.6 and 0.2, respectively.

SPT’s top rookie, Queen Latifah, gained 10% to a 1.1. Warner Bros.’ Bethenny remained flat at its series-low 0.7 for a second week in a row.

Further back, CTD’s The Test was flat at a 0.6. Neither Trisha nor The Test will return next season.

In late night, CTD’s Arsenio Hall held steady at a 0.7.

Among court shows, CTD’s Judge Judy did not air several times in key markets due to basketball and gave back 6% from the previous week to a 6.7 but was still up 2% from last year at this time. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was flat at a 1.8. Twentieth’s Divorce Court rebounded 7% to a 1.6. Twentieth’s already-canceled Judge Alex also picked up 7% to a 1.5, tying Warner Bros.' Judge Mathis, which added 7%.

Trailing the field, MGM’s newcomer Paternity Court, renewed for season two, was flat at a 1.0.

In access, interest in the tragic suicide of fashion designer L’Wren Scott, longtime girlfriend of Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger, trumped March Madness for two of the top-four magazines. CTD’s leader Entertainment Tonight improved 9% from the prior week to a 3.8, despite the basketball tournament. NBCU’s Access Hollywood, up 13% for the week and the second-ranked entertainment magazine, tied Warner Bros.’ TMZ, which was flat. CTD’s Inside Edition, the number-two overall magazine, sank 10% to a 2.8. Warner Bros.’ Extra held steady at a 1.6 and increased 7% from last year, marking the largest year-to-year gain of any show in the magazine category. CTD’s The Insider was widely preempted due to basketball, dropping 8% to a 1.2.

Further down, MGM’s RightThisMinute was flat at a 1.1. Twentieth’s Dish Nation dropped 10% to a 0.9. Trifecta’s recently-canceled America Now recovered 33% to a 0.4, while Trifecta’s rookie OK! TV, returning next season, tumbled 33% to a 0.2.

Game shows were a mixed bag. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune inched up 1% from the prior frame to a syndication-leading 7.0. CTD’s Jeopardy! lost 8% to a 6.1. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud upticked 2% to a 5.3. Disney/ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire was flat at a 2.2.

Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory continued to dominate the off-net sitcoms, perking up 3% from the prior week to a 6.1. Twentieth’s newcomer Modern Family was flat at a 4.3. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men was flat at a 3.4. Twentieth’s Family Guy fell 7% to a 2.7. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother lost 5% to a 1.9, tying SPT’s Seinfeld and Twentieth's rookie The Cleveland Show, which added 6%. Warner Bros.’ Friends was flat at a 1.8.