Syndies Slip as Sweeps Start

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In the first full week of February sweeps, syndie performances were surprisingly lukewarm, matching weather on the East Coast that kept viewers away from their sets. In the week ended Feb. 15, including President’s Day weekend, average viewing dropped by more than 1 million households.

Only three of the 17 talk shows managed to increase their ratings week to week, King World’s Dr. Phil, Universal’s Maury and Twentieth’s On Air With Ryan Seacrest. Among the rest of the pack, 11 were down and three were flat.

Dr. Phil’s ratings were up for the fourth straight week. The show had its best week ever among women 18-34, hitting a new series high 3.0 in the demo. Dr. Phil also scored a new season-high in women 18-49 with a 3.4. In households, the show averaged a 5.7, up 2% on the week and up 12% from last year. Maury was up 3% to 3.1, helped by an 11% increase in teens to 1.0.As usual, King World’s Oprah led the talkers with an 8.0, down 1%.

On Air With Ryan Seacrest was the only rookie to advance, tying for second place among the freshman crop with Warner Bros.’ cancelled Sharon Osbourne. Seacrest, featuring a performance by Britney Spears on Wednesday, Feb. 11, hit a new series-high of 1.2, up 9% for the week. Osbourne, meanwhile, slipped 8% to 1.2.

King World’s Living It Up! With Ali & Jack tumbled 17% to 1.0, tying NBC Enterprises’ Starting Over, which was down 9% to 1.0. Warner Bros.’ rookie leader The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which hit a series high two weeks ago, was down 5% to 2.1.

In late night, dating shows held up well as many schools were on break. Universal’s Blind Date was the number-one relationship strip for the 10th week in a row, maintaining its 1.7 from the prior week. Warner Bros.’ Elimi-Date rose 14% to 1.6. Twentieth’s Ex-Treme Dating was up 8% to 1.3, and tied Universal’s Fifth Wheel, which stayed even with its season’s best 1.3 of the prior week.

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