Sweeps Spark Ratings Spike for Veteran Talk Shows

Nov 20, 2006  •  Post A Comment

With the start of sweeps, veteran nationally syndicated talk shows are enjoying a sudden ratings spike.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Dr. Phil,” “Live With Regis and Kelly,” “Maury,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Montel Williams Show” all managed to boost their numbers for the week ended Nov. 5, according to Nielsen Media Research, with several shows hitting season highs.

Among the veterans, King World’s “Oprah” was up 12 percent to a season-high 7.7, King World’s “Dr. Phil” was up 6 percent to a season-high 5.3, Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” was up 3 percent to a season-high 3.5 and NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution’s “Maury” hit a season high with a 2.4. Warner Bros.’ “Ellen” was up 11 percent to a 2.1, and CBS Paramount Domestic Television’s “Montel” was up 6 percent to a 1.7.

Granted, for the prior week most of the talk shows were flat or down. Talk shows tend to reserve their best content for sweeps, and the new ratings period included the first two days of the November sweeps period.

Plus, the genre has had a tough season, with veteran shows straining to hold their ground and most new shows struggling. Year to year, “Oprah” gained 5 percent and “Dr. Phil” was flat, while all others were down.

Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Television Group, said the sweeps bump was “a normal pattern.”

“Once we’re in the sweeps, the bookings on the show become bigger guests and topics are more controversial,” he said.

Among the rookies, King World’s “Rachael Ray” still led, holding steady with a 2.0, followed by Warner Bros.’ “Dr. Keith Ablow” (also unchanged with a 1.0). Sony Pictures Television’s “The Greg Behrendt Show” was down 11 percent to a 0.8. NBC Universal Television’s “The Megan Mullally Show,” which just received an upgrade in Los Angeles, moving from noon to 3 p.m., was unchanged at a 0.8.

Mr. Carroll said that freshman talk shows struggling was also to be expected-as was Ms. Ray’s success.

“Freshman shows are almost always going into time periods where there was a problem so it’s not surprising they’re struggling,” he said. “On the other hand, you look at the station lineup, ‘Rachael Ray’ has and she should be achieving her number. If she wasn’t getting that number, then that would be a story.”

Among rookie court shows, Twentieth Television’s “Cristina’s Court” was down 7 percent to a 1.3 and Sony Pictures Television’s “Judge Maria Lopez” was down 10 percent to a 0.9, reflecting a trend among the entire genre for the week.

Other syndie highlights include Buena Vista’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” once again becoming the fastest-growing strip, up more than 13 percent over last year to a 3.4, and King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” hitting a season-high 8.8, up 6 percent from last year.