Syndication Ratings: Vets Return Strong with Spate of Season Premieres

'Dr. Phil' retakes talk lead, while 'Ellen,' 'Live' vie for second place
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Many syndicated shows premiered their seasons to strong ratings in the week ending Sept. 14, and that was even with widespread preemptions on Monday, Sept. 8, for the men’s finals of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament on CBS and on Thursday, Sept. 11, for coverage of the 9/11 Memorial.

NBCUniversal’s Meredith Vieira was the only high-profile rookie to debut in the national ratings during the week, opening with a 1.3 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. That number edged out the premiere of NBCU’s Steve Harvey in 2010, which bowed at a 1.2 but has been on a growth track ever since. Of the 14 talkers premiering since 2010, Vieira’s first-week debut ranks third in households behind Disney-ABC’s Katie — which started strong but ultimately fizzled —and SPT’s Queen Latifah last year.

CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, which has been the top-rated talk show every season since Oprah Winfrey wrapped her show in 2011, debuted its season at a 3.2. In a week filled with ripped-from-the-headlines originals, the show gained 19% over the prior week, when it featured a pre-season week of originals, and 10% over last year’s debut. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Phil also was on top, adding 25% to a 1.7.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen returned to form, gaining 8% from last year’s opener and 56% from its prior week of summer reruns to a 2.8 for its best opening week in the show's 12-year history. That tied week two of Disney-ABC’s Live with Kelly and Michael. Meanwhile, Live improved 4% for both the week and the year to get off to the strongest two-week start in seven years among households, according to Disney-ABC.

Steve Harvey catapulted into fourth place among the talkers with the genre’s largest increases, gaining 36% for the week and year to a 1.9.

NBCU’s Maury, still in repeats, held steady at a 1.8.

SPT’s Dr. Oz, which also premiered during the week, added 7% from the prior week to a 1.6, although the show dropped 20% from its prior year season-premiere after being downgraded and losing double-runs in many markets.

NBCU’s Steve Wilkos spiked 8% to a 1.4. CTD’s Rachael Ray, upgraded in some top ABC markets, remained at a 1.2, tying Jerry Springer, which added 9%. Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams, which hadn’t yet premiered its new season and remained in repeats, climbed 22% in households to a 1.1.

CTD’s The Doctors dropped 10% to a 0.9, tying SPT’s Queen Latifah, which also remained in repeats and improved 13%. Meredith’s The Better Show remained at a 0.2, where it has been for 39 out of the past 40 weeks.

Warner Bros.’ rookie The Real, which debuted Sept. 15, averaged a 0.9 rating/3 in the metered markets for its first week, declining 30% from its lead-in and 10% from its year-ago time period average. Among women 25-54, The Real averaged a 0.9/6, improving 28% over last year’s time periods.

Two rookie court shows — CTD’s Hot Bench and Entertainment Studios’ Justice with Judge Mablean — both launched on Sept. 15. Hot Bench proved to be the stronger starter with a 0.7 rating/2 share, while Justice with Judge Mablean debuted at a 0.4/1. Both shows were even with year-ago time periods.

The premiere of Debmar-Mercury’s new access show Celebrity Name Game, starring Craig Ferguson, averaged a 0.8/2 primary-run metered market household average in its Sept. 22 debut. That’s a 27% decline from its 1.1/2 lead-in and a 33% downgrade from its year-ago time period average of 1.2/3. Among women 25-54, the show was flat compared to its lead in at a 0.4/2, but down 33% from its year-ago 0.6/2 time period average.

Back in the national ratings, MGM’s viral video show RightThisMinute climbed 40% from its prior week of reruns to a season-premiere-week 1.4, after being upgraded to Fox owned stations in many top markets and improving its overall national clearance levels.

CTD’s Judge Judy remained syndication’s top show for the 25th week in a row, premiering its 19th season up 4% from the prior week to a 7.1 and topping its nearest syndication rival, CTD’s Wheel of Fortune, by 22%.

Among the rest of court, Warner Bros.’ People’s Court picked up 6% from the prior week to a 1.9, retaking second place from Twentieth’s Divorce Court, which slid back 15% to a 1.7. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis was flat at a 1.5, while MGM’s Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court was unchanged at a 1.0.

In access, heavy preemptions for CBS' Thursday Night Football penalized both CTD’s Entertainment Tonight and sister show The Insider in an otherwise very strong week for magazines. While leader ET eased 3% from the prior frame to a 3.1 and Insider slipped 8% to a 1.1, CTD’s Inside Edition rebounded 12% from its season low to a 2.8. Warner Bros.’ TMZ also added 12% to a 1.9, tying NBCU’s Access Hollywood, which grew 19% to a 1.9. AccessHollywood had surged 23% in the prior session, clocking a two-week increase of 46%. Warner Bros.’ Extra scored the biggest gains of any magazine in the top five, growing 23% for the week and 14% for the year to a 1.6.

Twentieth’s Dish Nation grew 10% to a 1.1, after holding at a 1.0 17 times in the past 19 weeks. Trifecta’s OK! TV was flat at a 0.3.

Among the games, Wheel of Fortune rolled to a 5.8, up 5% from its season low in the prior week. CTD’s Jeopardy! recovered 12% from its season low to a 5.7. Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud finished 6% higher to a 5.0. Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which launched season 13 with new host Terry Crews, climbed 18% from its series-low in the prior week to a 2.0, down 5% from last year at this time when Cedric the Entertainer debuted in the host chair.

The off-net sitcoms were mostly up as the new TV season got underway. Warner Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory grew 6% from the prior week to a 5.7. Twentieth’s Modern Family, at the start of its second season in syndication, added 3% to a 3.7. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men declined 6% to a 3.0. Twentieth’s Family Guy lost 8% to a 2.4. Twentieth’s How I Met Your Mother advanced 10% to a 2.2. Twentieth’s The Cleveland Show climbed 12% to a 1.9. SPT’s Seinfeld stayed at a 1.8, while Twentieth’s King of the Hill rose 14% to a 1.6, tying Warner Bros.’ The Middle, which dropped 6% to a 1.6.

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