Nearly two weeks ago, Judge Judy join an elite club of programs that did the impossible: knock off perennial ratings champ Wheel of Fortune.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Judy topped Wheel for the week ending April 24, with a 3% advantage over the long-running game show to become the top-rated show in syndication. Judy also passed over Jeopardy!, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Entertainment Tonight, and Dr. Phil.
Judy has benefited from Nielsen recently overhauling the way it tabulates ratings for barter-supported syndicated shows, which now cumes all of a series' run into one rating (this also include cable airings of first-run and off-network series.) Judy is double-run (and in Chicago's case, quadruple-run) in most markets - usually back-to-back, while Wheel only airs once a day, mostly in prime access time slots.
But you won't hear any complaints from Wheel's syndicator, CBS Television Distribution - they handle Judge Judy as well, and also Jeopardy! Oprah, and Entertainment Tonight. In fact, CBS usually holds eight of the top ten slots of the most-watched syndicated shows on television (Warner Bros.' Two And A Half Men and Twentieth's Family Guy are usually the exceptions.) Recently, CBS extended Judge Judy's contract through 2015.
The only other shows to dethrone Wheel have been Star Trek: The Next Generation (which is now handled by CBS), and Jeopardy!. And you can bet Oprah will be king of the syndication ratings hill when her final week of shows air later this month.
Judge Judy's success helped revive the courtroom genre, which laid dormant for several years after enjoying immerse popularity in the late 1980's with Divorce Court, Superior Court, The Judge, and the original version of The People's Court. Judy has topped all courtroom shows since her show debuted on September 16, 1996 - when it was the only one in the genre. Worldvision Enterprises was Judy's original syndicator.
Locally, you can catch Judge Judy every weekday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. over WBBM-TV. In the past, Judy has also aired on WCIU-TV and WPWR-TV.