If flat is indeed the new "up" in television ratings, the top syndicated talk shows held up well the first week of the new season, according to the national household ratings for the week ending Sept. 16.
Buoyed by the much-publicized season-opening show with David Letterman as a guest, The Oprah Winfrey Showaveraged a 5.8 for the week, up 4% from the corresponding week last year.
Not surprisingly, for the first week of the season, all three shows were up double-digits over their prior week, even with overall PUT (persons using televisions) levels down about 3.3 million from a week earlier.
Off-net rookie Family Guygot off to a solid start with a 3.5 average.
The top three news magazines -- Entertainment Tonight,Inside Edition and The Insider -- were up on the week, but all three were off year-to-year due to strong ratings at this time a year ago in the wake of news surrounding the late tabloid favorite Anna Nicole Smith.
The top shows in the crowded court genre were all flat or down compared to this week last year, while all four returning game shows -- Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Family Feud -- were down year-over-year.