The unusual sweeps period this year proved good for freshman shows The Doctors, Deal or No Deal and Bonnie Hunt, while many first-run veterans posted strong increases from a year ago, including Steve Wilkos, Oprah, Ellen and TMZ.
The results of the so-called March sweeps period are in and the top three newcomers to syndication, especially CBS Television Distribution’s The Doctors, showed strong growth over their debuts.
Mainstays, such as CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight and its Judge Judy, were No. 1 by wide margins in their genres, although many established strips were down from last March.
The declines came as many shows avoided the heavy promotion usually associated with a ratings period, apparently opting instead to focus instead on the upcoming May book that will quickly supersede the March numbers.
The Doctors came up huge in March, averaging a 1.9 for the sweep, which represented a 46% increase from its September debut and the highest ratings for any freshman strip.
NBCU’s Deal or No Deal was a powerful second with a 1.7 average, up 6%. Warner Bros.’ Bonnie Hunt took third with a 1.0 average, up 25% from its premiere week.
Further back, Sony’s Judge Karen fell 18% to a 0.9; Debmar-Mercury’s Trivial Pursuit: America Plays was unchanged at a 0.6 and Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud was down 17% from its debut to a 0.5 average.
Among the veteran daytime shows, CBS Television Distribution’s Oprah led the gabbers, talking up a 5.4, which was a 10% gain from the same four-week period last year, and CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil was second with a 3.5 average. Although that was down 17% from last year, it was a nice improvement from the November sweep when Phil was off 29% year to year.
Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly was down 4% to a 2.6, while Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres came on strong and was up 10% to a 2.3, cutting its distance between third-place Live in half from last year.
CBS Television Distribution’s Rachael Ray and NBCU’s Maury both dipped 5% to a 1.8, and Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks held steady at a 1.1, tying NBCU’s Jerry Springer, which was down 8% to a 1.1, and NBCU’s Steve Wilkos Show, which was up 22% to a 1.1, the largest year-to-year gain of any strip in syndication.
The dominant court show was CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Judy with a 4.4 average, which was double that of its nearest rival. Although every court strip with at least a 1.0 rating dropped from last year, Judy was down the least, dipping just 6%.
CBS Television Distribution’s Judge Joe Brown, which lost 12% to a 2.2, was second, followed by Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, which sank 17% to a 1.9; Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis, which tumbled 20% to a 1.6; and Twentieth’s Judge Alex, which faded 12% to a 1.5.
CBS Television Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight easily led the magazine field for its 74th consecutive sweeps victory with a 4.3 average, despite a dip of 2%. CBS Television Distribution’s Inside Edition eroded 6% to a 3.0; Warner Bros.’ TMZ bucked the downtrend, rising 5% to a third-place 2.3; NBCU’s Access Hollywood declined 4% to a 2.2; CBS Television Distribution’s The Insider slipped 14% to a 1.8 after numerous March Madness preemptions; while Warner Bros.’ Extra gained 6% to a 1.8.
Game shows were all down, with CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel of Fortune topping the field but skidding 8% to a 7.2 average; CBS Television Distribution’s Jeopardy! lost 6% to a 5.8 in second place; Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire devalued 14% to a 2.4; and Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud dove 21% to a 1.5.
Off-net sitcoms were also soft. Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men was on top with a 4.9, but dropped 8% from last year. Twentieth’s Family Guy fell 13% to a second-place 4.0. In third, Sony’s Seinfeld slipped 12% to 3.6, followed by CBS Television Distribution’s Everybody Loves Raymond at a 3.1, down 16%.
New off-net weekly hours were led by CBS Television Distribution’s CSI: NY at a 3.5, which was up 13% from its debut. NBCU’s House also rose from its premiere week, appreciating 9% to a 2.4. Twentieth’s Boston Legal and NBCU’s Monk were both even with their 1.7 debuts, but Disney-ABC’s Desperate Housewives was down 20% to a 1.2 average, and Disney-ABC’s Lost declined 27% to a 0.8.
The first-run action hour Disney-ABC’s Legend of the Seeker was down 38% from its two-hour premiere to a 1.8 average, while the off-TBS Debmar-Mercury’s House of Payne was up 15% from its premiere week to a 2.0.