A ‘Ray’ of sunshine for syndie newbie

Talk show draws bigs ratings in first week

“Rachael Ray” was on fire in its debut week, drawing the biggest ratings of any new firstrun strip this season.

In the week ended Sept. 24, “Ray” scored a 2.3 household rating — the highest nationally rated premiere for any talker since the opening week of “Dr. Phil” in 2002 and the second highest talkshow launch in the last 10 years, since the bow of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” in June 1996.

After only one week on the air, “Ray” ranked fourth among 13 yakkers, behind “Oprah, “Dr. Phil” and “Live With Regis and Kelly.”

“Geraldo at Large” saw the second-best showing among newcomers to national syndication, holding steady at a 1.6 in week two. “Cristina’s Court” was third (1.4), up 8% in its second week, followed by “The Megan Mullally Show,” which preemed at 0.9.

“The Dr. Keith Ablow Show” made its first appearance in the national ratings chart, tying with “Mullally” for fourth place among the firstrun freshman class with a 0.9.

Nielsen had yet to issue week-two ratings for “Judge Maria Lopez” and “The Greg Behrendt Show.”

“According to Jim” was the top performer among the rookie off-net sitcoms, debuting with a 1.8. “Jim” held a two-to-one rating margin over the next best new sitcom strip, “One on One,” which was unchanged at a 0.9 in its second week.

In weekly off-net syndication, “CSI: Miami” was up 7% to a 4.5 in its second week and “Without a Trace” preemed at a 2.7.

Among the syndication veterans, most genre leaders were flat to down year to year as PUT (people using television) levels slipped by an average of 287,000 week to week, and some shows were preempted in certain markets by coverage of President Bush’s U.N. speech on Sept. 19.

“Entertainment Tonight,” however, held steady week to week and was up 4% from last year.

Top talker “Oprah” averaged a 6.5 with her 21st season premiere week, up 16% week to week but down 7% year to year. “Judge Judy” topped the gavelers with a 4.4, unchanged on the week and down 2% from last year.

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