By Alan Pergament
When reading a New York Times article about the national popularity of "Judge Judy" that ran on the front page of the Buffalo News on Saturday, I couldn't help but wonder how she is doing in Western New York.
She is doing well here, but some much-needed perspective is in order.
Judith Sheindlin’'s prime time program on May 20 had a 4.6 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate. That placed it third in the time slot here opposite hour-long recaps of episodes of long-running musical reality series that originally aired on Monday.
In other words, "Judge Judy" finished third here to two reruns, which isn't that impressive.
The recap of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" performance finale that originally aired a night earlier had an 8.1 rating on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. The recap performance finale of NBC's "The Voice" had a 6.2 rating on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.
"Judge Judy" defeated the actual live performance finale of "American Idol," which would have been very impressive in other years. It isn't so impressive now that "Idol" ratings have plummeted. "Idol" had a 3.7 rating Tuesday on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. The former No.1 show on television finished fourth in its time slot, an indication of how far it has fallen.
The Times story noted that the prime time version of "Judge Judy" was the highest-rated CBS program of the night nationally.
That was also true in Western New York. Once again, some perspective is in order. Being the top CBS prime time program on May 20 didn't really mean all that much since the only other CBS program that was carried on May 20 was a two-hour special, the "Academy of Country Music Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops."
The ACM special was carried opposite the two-hour results programs of "Dancing" (9.9 rating) and "The Voice" (7.8). The music special only had a 3.7 rating on Channel 4. That's 20 percent below its lead-in from “Judge Judy,” which was understandable since the ACM program played opposite strong original programming.
Where "Judge Judy" shines locally is in syndication, where its 18th season airs on WUTV at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weeknights.
The 6:30 p.m. edition averaged a 3.4 rating in May on the Fox affiliate. It finished fourth in its time slot, well behind the three network nightly newscasts carried on Channel 2 (9.0), Channel 4 (7.9) and Channel 7 (4.7). However, that 3.4 rating is 13 percent higher than the 3.0 rating "Judy" averaged in May of 2013.
The 7 p.m. "Judy" averaged a 4.5 rating, finishing third in its time slot behind "Wheel of Fortune" on Channel 4 (9.8) and "Entertainment Tonight" (4.8) on Channel 2 and ahead of "Extra" (2.4) on Channel 7. More impressively, "Judy" gained about 18 percent from the 3.9 rating it had here in May of 2013.
In May of 2013 it got a decent rating in the age 25-54 demographic, but it did really well with viewers older than 54 who are less desirable to advertisers. The May 2014 demographics haven't arrived so it will be a week or so before we can see if the extra viewers are older or younger.
But judging by the syndication numbers in the Times article, the verdict is that the audience for the syndicated "Judy" appears to be growing at an even bigger rate here than it is doing nationally.
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