Most first-run strips were down or flat for the week ending Feb. 25, except for Ellen DeGeneres which set a ratings record.
In an otherwise down week for most syndicated shows, Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres was the standout, hitting its best ratings of the season and tying its highest ratings ever.
For the week ending Feb. 25, which included the third full week of the sweep, ratings were lower or flat for every strip in first-run syndication except Ellen as milder weather in much of the country sent people outdoors and PUT (persons using television) levels tumbling from the week before by more than 2.5 million viewers on average.
In addition, many strips had to compete with the Anna Nicole Smith courtroom drama which was the week’s biggest story on cable. The cable news channels devoted an average 26% of their airtime to what became the Judge Larry Seidlin show, more than triple the time spent covering the events in Iraq.
Ellen, the one talk show to improve during the week, jumped 8% in households to a new season high 2.7 and scored double-digit gains in every key female demo. On Thursday, Feb. 22, with Oprah Winfrey as a guest, Ellen’s ratings skyrocketed 43% from the prior Thursday to a 3.3, making it the highest-rated episode in the show’s four-year history. But even factoring out the Oprah show, ratings for Ellen would have been up from the week before as A-list guests and excitement over her hosting the Oscars drew viewers at record levels. Compared to last year at this time, Ellen was the only talker not to decline, holding steady at its series high 2.7.
Six of the other eight veteran talkers were lower and two were flat. The downers included the three higher rated than Ellen: CBS Television Distribution’s Oprah, which ironically had the largest week-to-week decline of any veteran talker, losing 14% to a 6.5; CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, which dipped 11% to a 5.1; and Buena Vista’s Live with Regis and Kelly, which slipped 10% to a 3.5.
All seven veteran court shows declined from the week before, including the leader, CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy, which was down 4% to a 5.1; CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Joe Brown, which slid 9% to a 3.2; Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, which fell 6% to a 3.0; and Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis, which dropped 4% to a 2.7. Year to year, only two judges improved—Judy and Mathis, which grew 9% and 4%, respectively.
None of the magazines were up from the mostly season-high levels reached the week before, but all remained well above their season averages. Of course, last year at this time NBC carried the Winter Olympics which caused some shows to be preempted on its affiliates in some markets.
The highest-rated magazine, CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight, slipped 9% to a 6.0 which was still its third best week of the season, 9% above its season average and 11% better than last year. CBS Television Distribution’s Inside Edition dropped 10% to a 3.8 which was 9% above its season average and up 6% from last year. CBS Television Distribution’s The Insider backed off 9% from its series high the week before to a 2.9, but was 7% above its average. NBCU’s Access Hollywood was down 6% to a 2.9, although it was 7% above its average and up 26% from last year. Warner Bros.’ Extra held steady at a 2.5 for a third consecutive week, up 14% from its season average.
All four game shows were down from the prior week, however Buena Vista’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire was still up 13% from last year to a 3.6. CBS Television Distribution’s Jeopardy!was up 4% from the same week one year ago to a 7.2, but leader CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel of Fortune was down 1% from last year to an 8.7.
None of the top five off-net sitcoms were up. Leader CBS Television Distribution’s Everybody Loves Raymond slid 2% to a 5.3; Sony’s Seinfeld was unchanged at a 4.9; and Warner Bros.’ Friends was down 3% to a 3.7. Year to year, all three were down between 14% and 26%.
CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight Weekend led first-run weekly hours, gaining 3% to a 3.3, which was up 18% from last year. NBCU’s Access Hollywood Weekend was down 6% to 1.7 and Warner Bros.’ Extra Weekend was unchanged at a 1.4, which was up 17% from last year.
Among off-net weekly hours, CBS Television Distribution’s CSI: Miami was down 10% to a 4.5; Warner Bros.’ Without a Trace, at a 2.5, saw 4% of its ratings disappear; and Tribune’s American Idol: Rewind backtracked 5% to a 2.1, its lowest rating yet.