The “Jerry Springer Show,” “Judge Judy,” “Entertainment Tonight” and “Seinfeld” were the big syndie winners in May, according to national Nielsen household rating averages for the four-week sweep period (April 23-May 20).

In the daytime talkshow derby, Studios USA’s “Jerry Springer” broke “Oprah Winfrey’s” decade-long May sweep winning streak, coming in at a 7.8 household rating to “Oprah’s” 6.8.

“Oprah” did squeak out a narrow win against “Springer” in the top 40 TV markets measured by Nielsen’s overnight metered survey, but on a national basis, “Oprah” was down 15% from the May 1997 sweep, while “Springer” soared 152%. Judgment day is looming for “Springer,” however, as next week is expected to usher in the kinder, gentler era of “Springer” — absent the brawling that has provoked so much criticism.

3 gals and a guy

Coming in a distant third among talkers was Paramount’s “Montel Williams” with a 4.3, unchanged from its year-ago perf. Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” followed in fourth with a 4.2, down 9% from last year. Studios USA’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” averaged a 4.0, off 7% from last year. WB’s “Jenny Jones” was down 5% year-to-year to a 3.9.

Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” pulled in a 3.7, dipping 8% from last May. Columbia TriStar TV’s “Ricki Lake” held all but 3% of last year’s rating at a 3.4. Par’s “Maury Povich” was down 26% year-to-year to a 2.9.

Among new firstrun strips, Col TriStar’s “Vibe” struggled through its third major sweep with a 1.3 average. The verdict on WB’s “The People’s Court” was a 2.7. Eyemark Entertainment’s “Martha Stewart Living” pulled in a 2.2. The recently canceled “Gayle King” and “Pictionary” came in under the 2.0 household rating mark.

Judgment call

Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” continued to shine in its sophomore season, growing a whopping 118% over last May to a 4.8. Par’s “Real TV” was second in the reality field with a 3.2.

Among access magazine strips, Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” led the pack, as usual, with a 5.5. King World’s “Inside Edition” and WB’s “Extra” tied for second with a 4.1. Par’s “Hard Copy” tallied a 3.1 overall, but posted gains in early fringe timeslots in a number of major markets. NBC/Twentieth TV’s “Access Hollywood” banked a 2.4.

In off-network sitcom-land, Col TriStar’s “Seinfeld” was the only major strip to stave off significant year-to-year declines. “Seinfeld” eased just 3% to a 7.2 for its first syndie sweep win over Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement.”

“Home Improvement” tumbled 22% from last year to a 6.7. Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” lost 14% to a 5.4. Par’s “Frasier,” in its first May sweep in syndication, averaged a 4.9. Col TriStar’s “Mad About You” sank 30% from last May to a 3.0.