In first season without 'Oprah,' vet has moved to No. 1

Two months into daytime’s first season without “Oprah,” “Dr. Phil” is the new king of talk.

Since the show’s 10th-season premiere, which featured a three-part interview with the parents of tabloid fodder Casey Anthony, “Dr. Phil” has made a strong claim to the talkshow crown, topping the genre seven out of the past eight weeks, including one tie with “Dr. Oz.” Both CBS Television Distribution’s “Dr. Phil” and Sony’s “Dr. Oz” were spun out of CTD’s “Oprah,” with each regularly appearing there as guest experts.

Season-to-date, “Dr. Phil” is averaging a 3.1 same-day rating in households, according to Nielsen — up 24% from last year — and its average viewership has grown by 636,000 to 4.12 million. It’s also up 13% to a 1.7 rating in the key women 25-54 demo.

“Oprah’s departure from daytime has opened doors for Phil to book guests and tackle topics that may have otherwise gone to her,” says Carla Pennington, exec producer of “Dr. Phil.”

The improvement is largely without the benefit of “Oprah” upgrades. “Dr. Phil” moved into “Oprah” time periods in only four markets, compared with “Dr. Oz,” which took “Oprah” slots in 22 markets. It’s also a strong turnaround compared with two years ago, when Post-Newsweek replaced “Phil” with “Oz” on KPRC Houston at 3 p.m., complaining of sliding ratings. At the time, “Phil” had dropped to a 2.5 national household rating, down 22% from the 3.2 it had averaged in 2008.

That said, “Dr. Oz,” now solidly in second place among syndicated talkshows, also has climbed this season, gaining 26% year-to-year to a 2.9. “Oz” is up 14% among women 25-54 to a 1.6, and has added an average of 665,000 viewers per day to 3.85 million total viewers.

Neither doctor’s job will get any easier next season, when four new talkshows — Disney-ABC’s “Katie,” NBCU’s “Steve Harvey,” CTD’s “Jeff Probst” and Twentieth’s “Ricki Lake” — are all scheduled to premiere.

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