Preemptions mean lower numbers for most shows in all categories during the second week of the February sweeps.
The second week of the Winter Olympics proved to be more problematic for syndicated competition than week one, with preemptions and migrating viewer interest pushing ratings down across the board.
Meanwhile, the levels of homes using television (HUT) increased 1% as people tuned into coverage of the winter games from Turin, Italy.
The only talk show to gain in the week-ending Feb. 19, also the second full week of February sweeps, was Buena Vista’s The Tony Danza Show, which gained 9% for the week to a 1.2. Danza was helped by an appearance from former daytime talk show diva Kathie Lee Gifford, who appeared Feb. 17. That episode averaged 1.4, up 36% from the prior week. While that’s all good news for the show, it still hasn’t been renewed for fall and Buena Vista is not commenting.
The rest of the talkers went nowhere. CBS Paramount’s Montel Williams hit its lowest rating since it began in 1992, sinking 18% to a 1.8 and plummeting 28% from last year. That was the biggest year-to-year decline of any talk show this week. Montel lost five metered markets due to the Olympics, although none of them were in the top 20.
King World’s The Oprah Winfrey Show, the top talker, plunged to its lowest ratings in the past five weeks, falling 12% from last week to a 6.9 and dropping 16% from last year. Oprah was preempted in four metered markets, none of which were in the top 20.
King World’s Dr. Phil was practically unaffected by Olympic preemptions, losing only Baltimore. Still, the good doctor was down 9% to a 5.3, and down 5% from last year.
In third place, Buena Vista’s Live with Regis and Kelly was down only 3% to a 3.6, after being bumped in a couple of markets. The show held even with last year.
NBC Universal’s Maury didn’t lose any markets, but was still down 3% to a 2.9 and down 9% from last year.
Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres rounded out the top five, doing well to lose only 4% to 2.5. Ellen airs on the NBC owned-and-operated stations, and thus was moved or preempted in 14 metered markets in favor of Olympic coverage. Compared to last year, Ellen had the biggest improvement of any talker, jumping 9%.
This genre’s rookies, NBC Universal’s Martha and Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks both held steady at a 1.8 and a 1.7, respectively, despite each show getting preempted in three markets. Per usual, Tyra topped Martha among key female demographics.
Elsewhere in daytime, most of the court shows continued their recent downward trend, with four of the top five showing year-to-year declines.
Paramount’s Judge Judy, the genre leader, dropped to her lowest rating in seven weeks, falling 6% to a 4.8 and dropping 9% from last year. Judy was preempted in Pittsburgh and Cincinatti. CBS Paramount’s Judge Joe Brown didn’t lose any metered markets but fell to its lowest ratings in eight weeks, declining 6% to a 3.1 and toppling 14% from last year.
Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was down 3% to a 2.9, but was up 7% from last year, even though it lost three mid-size markets. Twentieth’s Divorce Court was largely unaffected by the games, losing only Jacksonville, Fla., and was up 4% to a 2.8, but down 3% from a year ago. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis didn’t lose any metered markets but was down 4% to a 2.5 and down 4% from last year. Sony’s Judge Hatchett also didn’t lose any markets and was unchanged week-to-week and year-to-year at a 2.0. Twentieth’s rookie, Judge Alex, didn’t lose any metered markets and was unchanged for the week at a 2.3.
First-run access shows, namely entertainment news magazines, were the most affected, with preemptions throughout the week. The coverage for Warner Bros.’ Extra! dropped so much due to Olympic preemptions that Nielsen broke out the show every day of the week, meaning that none of this week’s ratings will be included in the show’s averages.
Only one magazine increased its average rating over last year, and that was CBS Paramount’s The Insider, which was up 4% to a 2.9, despite not airing in six metered markets for part or all of the week.