Syndication Ratings: Talk cheapens, court favored

Mar 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

An unusual February sweeps brought a bevy of bad news to talk shows, with all of the veterans down compared with the book one year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Although the Winter Olympics on NBC caused a number of pre-emptions in the access time slots, daytime should have remained relatively unaffected by the competition, at least in theory. The reality, however, saw seven of the veteran talk shows decline over year-ago scores-with double-digit drops. Whether that free-fall was from the Winter Games or an overall drop in the genre remains to be seen.
Suffering the worst decline year to year was the now-canceled strip “Sally Jessy Raphael” with a 29 percent slide to a 1.7 average. Ironically, the series finished the sweep with a season-high 2.0 rating. Another familiar face on the way out in daytime suffered a similar drop as “Rosie” slid 23 percent to a 2.4 average for the sweep.
Overall, “Oprah” once again took home the talk show crown for distributor King World Productions. The series earned first place with a 5.8 household rating, off 12 percent from the 2001 February book. The silver medal fell to Buena Vista Television’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” at a 3.9 rating, a moderate decline of 7 percent against the same period last year. The bronze went to Studios USA Domestic Television’s “Maury” with a 3.4, off 8 percent for the year.
After “Maury,” ratings really started to slide. “Jerry Springer” was off 24 percent to a 2.9, “Montel” fell 20 percent to a 2.8, while “Ricki” (down 27 percent) and “Jenny Jones” (down 17 percent) tied at a 1.9.
Court shows, however, managed to weather the storm somewhat easier, with two strips up over last year and no show dropping by double digits. The genre’s leader continued to be “Judge Judy” with a 5.9 household rating, sliding 8 percent. “Judge Joe Brown” was next at a 3.6, also down 8 percent. Twentieth Television’s “Divorce Court” remained in third place with only a 6 percent decline year to year.