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Verdict’s in on Court Shows

Apr 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

After a mild dip due to March Madness, syndicated fare bounced back during the week ending April 4, with most shows enjoying a slight increase in ratings. Compared with last year, however, one genre in particular has seen significant growth: courtroom strips.
During the week, Paramount’s “Judge Joe Brown,” Warner Bros.’ “Judge Greg Mathis” and Sony’s “Judge Hatchett” earned 3.6, 2.3 and 2.0 national household ratings, respectively, according to Nielsen Media Research. Compared with last year, that’s an improvement of 16 percent for “Brown,” 35 percent for “Mathis” and 33 percent for “Hatchett.” The other four courtroom strips-Twentieth Television’s “Texas Justice” and “Divorce Court,” Warner Bros.’ “People’s Court” and the top-ranked Paramount-distributed “Judge Judy”-made single-digit year-to-year gains.
Among rookies, three shows battled for the runner-up position after Warner Bros.’ “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Twentieth’s “On-Air With Ryan Seacrest,” King World’s “Living It Up! With Ali & Jack” and Warner Bros.’ “The Sharon Osbourne Show” each scored a 1.1 compared with 1.9 for “DeGeneres.” “Seacrest,” is up 10 percent from the previous week, mainly due to an appearance by Janet Jackson, a show that gave “Seacrest” his third-highest-ever daily rating of 1.3.
Meanwhile, among late-night dating shows, Universal’s top-rated “Blind Date” widened its lead over its closest competitor, Warner Bros.’ “Elimidate,” which fell to a new season low of 1.2 while “Blind Date” climbed 15 percent to 1.5. One possible reason for the surge is the recent expansion of “Blind Date” from Los Angeles to New York.
The week also saw the return of “Martha Stewart Living” to the ratings. After the domestic diva was convicted in March on charges related to securities fraud, she was dropped from Viacom-owned UPN and CBS stations. As a result, the show’s coverage was reduced by about 30 percent, knocking it out of the Nielsen Media Research rankings for about a month. If a show’s clearance drops by 10 percent or more, that week’s ratings will be treated as a fluke and not included in the season average.
Nielsen resumes reporting a show’s performance once its clearance returns to previous levels, which for example is usually the case after a week of pre-emptions. After a four-week absence, King World re-premiered “Martha” with a 62 percent clearance level and a 0.7 rating for the week ending April 4.