Exception was entertainment magazines which held their own.

Competition from NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics, even though they were low-rated, made this February sweeps tough sledding for most syndies. The sweeps ran from Feb. 2 through March 1.

The entertainment news magazines were arguably the sweeps’ strongest genre, managing to hold their own through Olympic preemptions, competition and no coverage of the Academy Awards, which fell outside of the sweeps this year.

CBS Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight was once again the genre’s top performer, winning its 62nd sweep in a row, every sweep for the past 15 years. ET averaged a 5.5 national household rating, down 4% from last February, according to Nielsen’s live plus same day ratings.

King World’s Inside Edition dropped just 3% to a 3.7. CBS Paramount’s The Insider actually was up 3% from last year to a 3.0, tying its highest ratings ever for any sweep since its 2004 debut. NBC U’s Access Hollywood held on very well, dropping only 7% to a 2.5, even though it was preempted frequently for the Olympics. And Warner Bros.’ Extra! was up 4% to a 2.4. Olympic preemptions didn’t figure into Extra!’s ratings because Nielsen didn’t count the show on those days.

Twentieth’s Geraldo at Large, distributed only in 37 metered markets, continued to underperform against its lead-in and year-ago time periods. Geraldo averaged a 2.4 rating/5 share for primary runs in its markets during the sweep. That’s down 31% from its 3.5 rating/6 share lead-in; down 11% from its time-period average of 2.7/5; and down 8% from the 2.6/5 that the now canceled A Current Affair did in May 2005. On the plus side, Geraldo was up 4% in rating and up 1 share point from its November sweep average, which was a 2.3/4.

Among the off-net sitcoms, King World’s Everybody Loves Raymond was down 10% to a 6.6. Sony’s Seinfeld was down 8% to a 5.9. And Warner Bros.’ Friends was down 14% to a 5.0. While the off-net sitcoms may have been hurt by competition from NBC’s Olympics coverage, all of the top off-nets are aging and thus losing audience. Seinfeld is in its 11th season of syndication, while Friends is in its eighth and Raymond in its fifth.


Among the talk shows, King World’s top talker, Oprah, fell 15% to a 7.2. CBS Paramount’s Dr. Phil declined 8% to 5.5. Buena Vista’s Live with Regis and Kelly descended 5% to a 3.6. NBC Universal’s Maury was down 9% to a 3.0.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen was the one veteran to be up over last year, hitting a 2.6 February average, up 8% from last year. CBS Paramount’s Montel Williams was a 2.1, down 19% from last year. NBC U’s Jerry Springer tied Maury at a 2.1, a dip of 9% from last year. Buena Vista’s Tony Danza was a 1.2, down 8%.

Warner Bros.’ Tyra Banks was the top rookie, averaging a 1.8, up 64% from its September debut of a 1.1. Tyra finished ahead of syndication’s other talk rookie, NBC U’s Martha, which averaged a 1.7 rating, down 15% from its September debut. Martha’s small decline is not so surprising, however, because it got a good deal of free publicity this fall after Martha Stewart left prison and launched both a daytime talk show and a primetime reality show, NBC’s The Apprentice. What’s more, Martha’s ratings have been consistent since its initial drop-off.

In daytime, CBS Paramount’s Judge Judy, the top court show, was down 9% to a 4.9. The No. 2 court show, CBS Paramount’s Judge Joe Brown, dropped 14% to a 3.2. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court was the only court show up over last February, jumping 7% to a 3.0. Twentieth’s Divorce Court dipped 10% to a 2.7. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis was down 7% to a 2.5. Twentieth’s rookie, Judge Alex, was up 10% from its September debut week to a 2.3.

All three of the top game shows were lower year to year. The game-show and syndie leader, King World’s Wheel of Fortune, was down 10% to an 8.9. King World’s Jeopardy! was down 13% to a 7.2 and Buena Vista’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was down 11% to a 3.3.

Finally, among the last two remaining late-night dating shows, NBC Universal’s Blind Date averaged a 1.1, down 15%, and Warner Bros.’ Elimidate averaged a 1.0 in the sweep, down 17% from last February.

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