Preemptions and delays on CBS affils hurts most talkers; lower PUT levels mean most shows posted flat or down numbers.
Syndicated shows, especially those cleared widely on CBS affiliates, got hit with a triple whammy in the week ending March 18: the early start of Daylight Saving Time, the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS and the beginning of spring break at some colleges.
Making matters even worse, PUT levels slid by 800,000 viewers from the week before and by more than 2.8 million the week before that.
For example, CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil, which is carried by numerous CBS stations, did not air in many markets and was pushed all over the schedule by March Madness almost everywhere else. Not surprisingly, ratings for the week, which was full of reruns, were slammed to a new season low 4.1, down 16% from week before. Even so, it still outrated every talker except CBS Television Distribution’s Oprah, which sank 11% to a 5.4.
On the positive side, three talk shows bucked the down-trend: Buena Vista’s Live with Regis and Kelly, Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres and NBCU’s Martha. In fact, these were the only nationally-rated strips of any type in first run to show week-to-week improvement.
Live, the third highest-rated talker, was up 6% to a 3.5. Of course, on Monday, Regis Philbin revealed that he would be having open heart surgery later that week and the March 12 telecast was the series’ most-watched show of the week, drawing more than 4 million households.
Ellen had the biggest percentage increase of any first-run strip, gaining 10% to a 2.2. Friday’s Ellen jumped 20% to a 2.4 with Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke and her celebrity partner Ian Ziering.
Martha was also hot, delivering an 8% improvement to a 1.4. A St. Patrick’s themed show on March 16 was up 23% from the week before to a 1.6 and was the show’s highest-rated telecast since the sweep. However, compared to the same week one year ago, only Ellen was on the upside, growing 5%.
On the rookie front, CBS Television Distribution’s Rachael Ray did well to hold steady at a 2.0, despite not airing in nine large markets—including Los Angeles and Chicago—Thursday and Friday due to basketball.
Among the not-yet-cleared-nationally new talkers, Fox’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet gained 8% to a 1.4 rating/5 share in its 29 metered markets and NBCU’s iVillage Live was unchanged at a 0.6/2 in its 11 metered markets.
None of court shows were able to gain. CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy was down 10% to a 4.5; CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Joe Brown slipped 3% to a 2.9; Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was flat at a 2.7; and Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis was down 4% to a 2.4. Compared to last year, every court show was lower. Among rookies, Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court fell 7% to a 1.3, matching its season low, and Sony’s Judge Maria Lopez was flat at a 1.0.
Game shows were all down, with CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel of Fortune losing 7% to an 8.0 and sliding 14% from last year. CBS Television Distribution’s Jeopardy!dropped 10%, both week to week and year to year, to a 6.2; Buena Vista’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire dipped 6% for the week and the year to 3.2; and Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud fell 5% to a 1.8 and was down 14% from last year.
None of the magazines were up either. CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight, which had 25 metered markets where it did not air or was pushed into late night by basketball, took a 16% rating hit to a 4.9, although before the tournament began, ET’s ratings were sharply higher, starting the week at a 6.0 on Monday with coverage of Regis Philbin’s impending surgery. ET spinoff CBS Television Distribution’s The Insider was also wiped out by the games, losing 18% to a season low 2.3. CBS Television Distribution’s Inside Edition was down 16% to a 3.2, while NBCU’s Access Hollywood was unchanged at a 2.8 and Warner Bros.’ Extra slid 4% to a 2.3.
Year to year, Access Hollywood and Extra were up 8% and 5%, respectively, and ET held steady.
Among off-net sitcoms, the surprise was that Warner Bros.’ Friends was overtaken by Sony’s King of Queens for the first time. Friends, the usual No. 3 sitcom in syndication, tumbled 14% to a 3.2, while King was down only 6% to a 3.3. Year to year, the two shows are going in opposite directions with Friends losing 30% and King gaining 27%.
The top two off-nets, CBS Television Distribution’s Everybody Loves Raymond at a 5.1, and Sony’s Seinfeld, at a 4.6, were each down 6% week to week, although Ray was down 16 % from the same week a year ago, and Seinfeld was off 21% from last year.
In weekly action, CBS Television Distribution’s CSI: Miami and Warner Bros.’ Without a Trace each lost 8%, to a 4.4 and a 2.3, respectively. Tribune’s American Idol: Rewind tied its season low with a 13% decline to a 2.1. Buena Vista’s Alias was up 12% to a 1.9, although down 5% from last year. Twentieth’s 24 was down 6% for the week to a 1.6 and off 36% from last year, and Warner Bros.’ Smallville also averaged a 1.6, up 14% for the week, but down 11% from last year.