`Springer' Beats `Oprah' In The May Sweeps

The syndicated "Jerry Springer Show" has become the first talk show in more than a decade to beat the "Oprah" (Winfrey) show in the important May sweeps, according to the Nielsen ratings.

"Jerry Springer" won every week in the quarterly ratings period, which is used by stations to set future ad rates.

The circuslike series, distributed by Studios USA, has been the most-watched daytime program for 14 straight weeks.

In February, also a sweeps month, "Springer" became the first show in a decade to beat "Oprah" for a single week.

For the May sweeps, "Jerry Springer" averaged a 7.6 rating (percentage of the nation's 98 million TV homes) with 9,860,000 viewers on average. "Oprah" drew a 6.8 rating, with 7,740,000 viewers.

The sweeps win for "Jerry Springer" comes at a time of intense scrutiny for the show and its host. Since topping "Oprah," the show has been slammed by religious groups, dropped by its Chicago affiliate (and immediately picked up by another Windy City station) and hit with accusations that guests faked their stories.

The negative attention drawn by "Springer" is believed to have played some part in the departure Thursday of Studios USA chairman Greg Meidel.

For the week ending May 24 (which included the final days of the May sweeps), "The Jerry Springer Show" averaged a 7.1 rating and 9,154,000 viewers, while "Oprah" averaged a 6.7 rating and 7,782,000.

Compared to the previous week, ratings were down 10 percent for "Springer," while those for "Oprah" were flat.