‘Live’ Unseats ‘Phil’ As TV’s Top Talker

Other shows bucking the ratings downtrend in the week leading up to Christmas included TMZ, Maury, Family Feud and the top off-net sitcoms.

With all syndicators airing mostly encores, many shows were lower in the pre-Christmas week ending Dec. 23.

Talk Shows

The big story was Live with Kelly and Michael (Disney-ABC), which finished first for the first time since its September season premiere and became the only show this season to dislodge Phil from the top spot among talkers.

Live matched its previous season high as its ratings jumped 8% from the week before to a 2.8 with original shows featuring such stars as John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Richard Gere and The Voice winner Cassadee Pope

Ellen (WBDTD) landed a tenth of a point behind Live with a 2.7, but attracted 3,673,000 viewers, which was the most of any talk show. Ellen was also the talk leader in the women 25-54 demo with a 1.8. Among households, Ellen was down 7% from the week before, but up 29% from last year at this time.

Dr. Phil (CTD), which had been the No. 1 talker for the previous 13 weeks, aired only repeats and low-rated public service programs designed to help viewers cope with the aftermath of the Connecticut school massacre. Even so, Phil scored a third-place 2.6, off 16% from the prior frame, but only one-tenth of a point behind Ellen.


Maury (NBCU) improved 9% to a 2.4 in households and was the highest-rated talker among women 18-49 and 18-34; Dr. Oz (Sony) declined 4% to a fifth-place 2.3; Rachael Ray (CTD), which featured a full hour Regis Philbin guest appearance on Dec. 17, mushroomed 14% to a 1.6; while Steve Wilkos (NBCU) climbed 7% to a 1.5, equaling its series high, and Wendy Williams (Debmar-Mercury) scored a season-high 1.3.

In other talk show ratings news, syndicated television’s No. 1 new show, Katie (Disney-ABC), was flat but well ahead of the rest of the rookie pack with a 1.8. Steve Harvey (NBCU) and Jeff Probst (CTD) held steady at 1.4 and 0.7, respectively; Ricki Lake (Twentieth) added 17% to a 0.7, while Trisha (NBCU) held firm at a 0.5.

Court Shows

Judge Judy (CTD) presided over the courts and all of daytime with a 6.7, easing 4% from the week before. Judge Joe Brown (CTD) and People’s Court (WBDTD) were unchanged at 2.3 and 1.8, respectively, while Judge Mathis (WBDTD) edged up 7% to a 1.6.

Magazine Shows

Magazines seemed to catch their breath after a recent run-up. However, TMZ (WBDTD) was the one show in the category that continued to grow, matching its season high 2.0, which was up 5% both week to week and year to year.

Leader Entertainment Tonight (CTD) dipped 8% to a 3.6, although it was still up 3% from last year; Inside Edition (CTD)  lost 3% to a 3.2; Access Hollywood (NBCU) backtracked 11% from its season high to a 1.7; Extra (WBDTD), which was preempted seven times by holiday-related programming in the top 32 markets alone, was off 6% to a 1.5; The Insider (CTD)  slipped 7% to a 1.4; while rookie Dish Nation (Twentieth) was flat at 1.0.

Game Shows

Game shows were mostly soft with Wheel of Fortune (CTD) slowing 1% week to week to a 7.3. Jeopardy (CTD) fell 3% to a 6.4; Family Feud (Debmar-Mercury) picked up 2% to 4.7; Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Disney-ABC) was unchanged at a 2.3; while newcomer Baggage (GSN) headed south, skidding 8% to a 1.1.

Off-Net Sitcoms

Off-net syndication bucked the general downtrend. Big Bang Theory (WBDTD) inched up 1% from the previous week to a chart-topping 7.4; Two and a Half Men (WBDTD) added 2% to a 5.5; Family Guy (Twentieth) gained 5% to a 4.0; and How I Met Your Mother (Twentieth) rose 4% to a 2.9.

Off-Net Weekly Hours

Among off-net weekly hours, Law & Order: SVU (NBCU) held onto the lead but dropped 14% from the week before to a 3.8. Sister show Law & Order (NBCU) weakened 6% to a 3.1; Criminal Minds (CTD) moved up 18% to a 2.6, tying CSI: Miami (CTD), which grew 8% to a 2.6.

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Melinda Santana-Carey says:

January 4, 2013 at 8:20 pm

I love how you refer to WHEEL OF FORTUNE as “soft.” The show appears to have come in #1 in first-run syndication last week–with a 7.3 rating. That’s “soft”? Meanwhile, you refer to the off-net BIG BANG THEORY as a ‘chart topper’–with a 7.4 rating. How can WHEEL be so soft by declining just 1 percent in a week…and coming in #1 among first-run shows? Seriously.