Ratings for most syndicated shows were lower in the week ended March 19, especially for shows cleared on CBS affiliates that were preempted numerous times as the network aired more than 20 hours of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

On the positive side several talkshows, including two rookies, moved higher despite competing against March Madness.

Top talkers “Oprah” and “Dr. Phil” both plunged to their worst ratings of the season, however. “Oprah” skidded 21% to a new season low of 5.8, which was down 5% year to year. “Dr. Phil” sank 13% to a new season low of 4.6, down 4% year to year.

“Live With Regis and Kelly” dipped 3% to a 3.5, holding even year to year, while “Maury” was down 4% to a 2.7 and fell 18% from last year.

“Starting Over” was the biggest percentage gainer among yakkers, jumping 20% from the week prior to a 1.2, tying its season high and up 33% over last year at this time. Other talkers bucking the downtrend included “The Tony Danza Show,” despite Danza’s March 17 announcement that the skein was unlikely to continue past the current season. “Danza” was up 10% to 1.1 and even with last year.

“Montel Williams” was up 5% week to week at a 2.1 but down 16% from last year.

Rookies “The Martha Stewart Show” and “The Tyra Banks Show” drew a 1.8 and a 1.7, up 13% and 6%, respectively.

Elsewhere in daytime, “Divorce Court” was the only gaveler among the top four to see a ratings increase.

“Divorce Court” execs announced that after seven years on the bench, Judge Mablean Ephriam will not be returning to the show, which was up 8% to a 2.8, holding steady with last year.

Top gaveler “Judge Judy” was down 2% to a 4.8 and down 6% year to year, while “Judge Joe Brown” was down 3% to a 3.1 and 11% year to year.

“People’s Court” was down 3% to a 2.8, tying “Divorce Court” and up 8% from last year.

Rookie “Judge Alex” was up 5% to a 2.3.

Among the magazine shows, “Entertainment Tonight,” the No. 1 show in the genre, was hit with massive preemptions, losing 26 metered markets including all the top five for part of the week due to March Madness. Despite falling 13% to a 4.9, skein was still up 9% year to year.

“The Insider,” which was knocked off the air in 21 metered markets also managed a year-to-year increase. While down 14% for the week to a 2.5, skein was up 9% over last year.

Other magazines were less affected by the tournament but still down.

“Inside Edition,” at a 3.3, was down 11% for week and flat year to year, while “Access Hollywood” was down 4% to a 2.6 but up 4% from last year.

“Extra” was down 8% for the week to a 2.2 and off 4% from last year.