WCBS New York has outbid WNBC for exclusive local TV rights to “Judge Judy,” ponying up a weekly license fee of about $125,000 for a two-year deal beginning in fall 2006.
The last hit show in firstrun syndication to draw headlines by moving its address in New York was … “Judge Judy.” WCBS was racking up big Nielsen ratings for the show in 1998 when WNBC elbowed out its competitor by offering Paramount Domestic TV more than double the $55,000 a week WCBS was paying.
In the new contract, WNBC wanted a cut in the license fee, citing the aging of the “Judge Judy” audience, which made it harder for the station to get premium prices for the show.
Par said no to offering “Judy” at a discount, opening the door to WCBS. “Judy” still finishes second in the 4 p.m. time period behind “Oprah” on WABC, although the average rating of “Judy” — a 4.1 year to date — is 23% lower than the 5.3 the show was harvesting for the same period in 2003.
A WCBS spokeswoman said all of the 4 p.m. shows except “Oprah” are down year to year, at least in part because Nielsen has shifted to local People Meters in Gotham, making comparisons to last year’s regular household meters (supplemented by diaries) less than exact.
WCBS has just renewed its 3 p.m. syndie powerhouse “Dr. Phil,” from King World, through the 2008-09 season. “Dr. Phil” could deliver big audiences to “Judy” if the station keeps her show at 4.
WCBS, King World and Paramount are all divisions of Viacom.