DeGeneres' show hits skein-history rating high

While newcomers like Katie Couric, Ricki Lake, Jeff Probst and Steve Harvey have been hogging the syndication spotlight, Ellen DeGeneres has seen her show quietly turn in one of its strongest performances in years.

Warner Bros.’ “Ellen” preemed Sept. 10 to the best numbers in its decade-long run, scoring a 3.0 household rating/8 share in Nielsen’s weighted metered markets, and a 2.2/10 among daytime’s key women 25-54 demographic. “Ellen’s” previous best number in the demo came in the show’s second season, when it hit a 1.7/8 among women 25-54.

Nationally, “Ellen” is averaging a 1.5 in the demographic, tied for third with Disney-ABC’s “Live! With Kelly and Michael,” and behind NBCUniversal’s “Maury,” which scored a 1.7 in its premiere week, and CBS Television Distribution’s “Dr. Phil,” which remains the most-watched talkshow overall, at a 1.6.

Season-to-date (through Oct. 2), “Ellen” was averaging a 2.7/7 household average in the metered markets, up 42% over its lead-in (1.9/6) and up 35% from the 2.0/5 it did last September. Among women 25-54, “Ellen” has improved on its lead-in by almost 90%, (1.7/10 from a 0.9/6), and it’s up 55% compared with last year’s 1.1/6.

The show’s performance is surprising even Warner Bros., which was disappointed last fall, when “Ellen” failed to realize the gains the distrib had hoped for after it inherited quite a few of “Oprah’s” timeslots.

There’s an argument to be made that this year the relatively strong premiere of NBCU’s “Steve Harvey” is giving “Ellen” a boost, yet even in markets where “Harvey” isn’t a factor, “Ellen” is showing significant growth.

On the NBC-owned stations, where “Ellen” follows “Steve Harvey” in the country’s top markets, the show is improving on its lead-ins by 50% and over year-ago time periods by 67% among women 25-54. The story is similar in households, where “Ellen” is up over its lead-ins by 44% and over last year by 64%.

Likewise, on non-NBC-owned stations, which make up the majority of “Ellen’s” clearances, the show has doubled its lead-in and is up 50% over last year in the demo. It’s up 43% over its lead-in and 30% over last year in households.

Viewers seem to be responding to the amiable DeGeneres, who’s always a threat to start dancing on her show. She’ll be doing that in the streets if these numbers continue.

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