Coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith saga drives viewing.
Coverage of the death of Anna Nicole Smith propelled CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight to its highest national Nielsen numbers in more than three years, while ratings for three of the other four magazine shows, although dwarfed by ET, still set new season highs.
The week ending Feb. 11, which included the first full week of the sweep also saw the top four talk shows register increases while top-tier shows in other genres were mostly flat to down.
ET had the sharpest week to week increase of any magazine, jumping 12% to a 6.4, its best weekly rating since the week of Feb. 2, 2004, which followed the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction.
ET and most other magazines, which air as early as 4 p.m. ET on some stations, had to scramble to prepare their stories after Smith was pronounced dead at 2:49 p.m. on Feb 8. But viewers tuned in and were glued to the breaking coverage as evidenced by ET’s Feb. 8 rating which surged 33% from the prior week to a 7.6, its highest rated telecast since the day after the 2004 Academy Awards.
For the week, ET drew a daily average of approximately 9 million viewers per show and had ratings 56% higher than that of its closest magazine rival CBS Television Distribution’s Inside Edition’s 4.1, which was up 11% to a new season high.
ET spinoff The Insider jumped 7% to a 3.1, setting a new season record and tying its all all-time high. NBCU’s Access Hollywood also had a 3.1, unchanged, and Warner Bros.’ Extra! was up 4% to a new season high 2.5.
Compared to last year at this time, all five magazines were higher. No other category of strips in syndication had more than two shows with year-to-year increases. ET was up 12%, Inside Edition was up 8%, The Insider was up by 3%, Access Hollywood and Extra!, whose ratings were atypically depressed a year ago by preemptions for the Winter Olympics, were up 19% and 4%, respectively.
Buena Vista’s Live with Regis and Kelly was the only talk show to hit a new season high rating, averaging a 3.9, up 5%. Live was also the only talker up over last year, growing 5% with its annual “Wedding Week” in which one lucky couple gets married on the show. The actual ceremony was seen by nearly 5 million viewers.
CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil had the biggest weekly increase among talkers, spiking to a 5.7, its second highest rating of the season, and up 8% on the week and 14% over the past two weeks.
The top talker, CBS Television Distribution’s Oprah, was up 4% to a 7.3, and NBCU’s Maury rose 4% to a 2.6.
Among rookies, CBS Television Distribution’s Rachael Ray drew its biggest audience ever, averaging just over 3 million viewers per show for the week. Its rating remained steady at its season high 2.4 which was set last week.
The not yet nationally cleared Morning Show with Mike and Juliet from Fox continued its pattern of growing every week since its debut a month ago. Last week Mike and Juliet averaged a 1.6 rating/5 share in its 27 metered markets, up 23% over its premiere week, fueled by gains of 67% in New York, 78% in Philadelphia and 120% in Washington.
NBCU’s iVillage Live averaged a 0.7/2, up 17% in its 11th week in 12 metered markets.
Only one game show was up for week, Buena Vista’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which climbed 3% to a 3.7 and improved 9% over last year. Leader Wheel of Fortune from CBS Television Distribution was down 1% to a 9.2, but up 3% from last year, while CBS Television Distribution’s Jeopardy!was down 4% to a 7.2 and down 1% year to year.
Twentieth’s Divorce Court had biggest increase among gavelers, gaining 10% to a 2.2. Others moving higher were Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis, up 4% to a new season high 2.8, and Twentieth’s Judge Alex which was up 5% to a 2.1. Compared to same week last year, the only court shows with growth were CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Joe Brown, up 3% to a 3.4, and Judge Mathis, up 8%.
Among court newcomers, Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court was down 7% to a 1.4 and Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez was flat at a 1.1.
The top off-net sitcoms were down slightly, except for second-place Seinfeld from Sony which rose 4% to a season-high 5.1. CBS Television Distribution’s Everybody Loves Raymond lost 7% to a 5.5 and Warner Bros.’ Friends fell 10% to a 3.7. All of the top three comedies were down from last year by double digits.
CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight Weekend led the first-run weekly hours with a 3.5, which was a new season high for the second week in a row. The show was up 3% for week and up 21% over last year.
NBCU’s Access Hollywood Weekend was second with a new season high 2.3, up a whopping 35%.
Off-net weekly hours were topped by CBS Television Distribution’s CSI: Miami at a 5.1, up 13% with Warner Bros.’ Without a Trace second at a 2.6, up 8% and Tribune’s American Idol: Rewind at a 2.4, up 4%.