It has inherited the mantle from McGraw's mentor, Oprah

Halfway through the February sweep, CBS Television Distribution’s “Dr. Phil” is cementing its status as syndication’s most-watched talkshow, finally inheriting the mantle from Dr. Phil’s mentor, Oprah Winfrey.

Until CTD’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show” left daytime last fall, “Dr. Phil” had no chance to be TV’s top talker because it was contractually forbidden from competing against “Oprah.” That kept “Phil” out of 4 p.m. time slots, the time period that has the highest levels of people watching television in daytime.

With “Oprah” gone, “Dr. Phil” has been upgraded in four markets, which can account for some of the show’s growth, but not all of it. The show also has secured several high-profile exclusive interviews and stuck close to the cultural climate.

“Dr. Phil” closed out the November sweep up 7% over last year to a 3.2 same-day household average, according to Nielsen. Five days into the February sweep, “Dr. Phil” is averaging a 3.3 household rating, a 6% jump over last year’s February sweep.

That “Dr. Phil” is holding its own is a big reversal over 2009, when the show had declined 22%, bowing at a 2.5 same-day household rating. Today, it’s back to its pre-2009 levels.

“Dr. Phil” is particularly strong on CBS’ KYW Philadelphia, where it’s averaging a 3.7 rating/9 share at 4 p.m., up 37% from news last year, and up 28% from last year when it aired at 5 p.m. It’s also doing well on CBS’ WUSA Washington, D.C., where it’s up 22% at 4 p.m., compared with CTD’s “The Doctors,” which occupied the slot last year. On Belo’s independent Phoenix station, KTVK, “Dr. Phil” is improving two time periods at 1 p.m., where it’s up 44%; and 7 p.m., where the show is up 7%.

Though the most popular talkshow overall, “Dr. Phil” is running second for the season in adults 18-49 (0.9 rating), well behind “Maury” (1.3). It’s closer in adults 25-54, where “Phil” is just a tick behind “Maury” (1.1 vs. 1.2).

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