“Family Feud” soars to No. 1

Steve Harvey is all smiles. And why not? Family Feud is the #1 game show for the first time in over three decades
Steve Harvey is all smiles. And why not? Family Feud is the #1 game show for the first time in over three decades (Fremantle Media)

-Becomes the top-rated syndicated game show for the first time since November 1983

– Also: Inside Edition beats ET for first place in magazine genre

Well, look who’s back at No.1…

Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud, the venerable game show which survived numerous host changes since its return in 1999, has finished as the top-rated syndicated game show and top-rated strip for the first time in 32 years.

For the week ending June 20, the Steve Harvey-hosted game show topped all daily first-run strips with a 6.1 household rating, pulling ahead of Wheel of Fortune (6.0) and Jeopardy (5.9), marking the first time since November 1983 that Feud – when it was hosted by Richard Dawson, beat archrival Wheel – which was cleared in only 40 percent of the country and didn’t air in New York or Chicago yet. ABC-owned WLS began airing Wheel at 6:30 p.m. since January 9, 1984.

It also marks the first time Debmar-Mercury finished in the top spot with any show.

And Feud is coming off a spectacular premiere of its Celebrity edition on ABC Sunday night, scoring a 2.4 adults 18-49 – the highest rated non-sports program of the week.

Keep in mind however, Wheel and Jeopardy were preempted or delayed in many markets – especially in Mountain and Pacific time zones due to NBA Finals and Stanley Cup games.

Wheel has dominated syndication throughout most of its existence, but has been dethroned in recent years by other shows – notably Judge Judy. Wheel’s had a streak at the top in its early years, snapped by Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1991.

"Family Feud" original host Richard Dawson in this 1981 photo. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
“Family Feud” original host Richard Dawson in this 1981 photo.  (ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

This is a measure of revenge of some sorts for Feud, which was knocked off by Wheel in the Nielsen ratings in early 1984, despite not being fully cleared in the rest of the country. When Jeopardy premiered later in the year, Feud wound up finishing third behind both King World game shows and despite ranking in the top ten, then-Feud syndicator Viacom (which is now CBS Television Distribution – the current distributor of Wheel and Jeopardy) pulled the plug after the NBC-Owned stations declined to renew the show, while ABC canceled the daytime version.

After getting decimated by Wheel on WLS-TV, WMAQ, Chicago’s NBC O&O, moved Feud from its longtime 6:30 p.m. prime access slot to 1:30 a.m. in September 1984 to make room for that hot new programming concept, Name That Tune. WMAQ and other NBC-owned stations returned Feud to access in 1988 to similarly disastrous results, though this version with Ray Combs would last six seasons.

Feud returned to access last September over Fox-owned WPWR, which aired the last three seasons of Combs’ era, the unsuccessful return of Dawson in 1994, and the first season when it returned to syndication five years later.

Meanwhile, another surprise emerged in the weekly syndication ratings. Entertainment Tonight – which had a long streak as the top-rated magazine show, was toppled by Inside Edition by a score of 2.9 to 2.8. This has to be a historic low for the 34-year old show, which lost ground over the years to newer, competing programs in the genre – especially TMZ, Dish Nation, Extra, and Access Hollywood, which attract younger audiences than ET.

This past week, Inside Edition and its host, former WMAQ anchor Deborah Norville were in Chicago and Wrigley Field to shoot some segments. Edition airs locally at 3 p.m. on WLS.

Both ET and Inside Edition are syndicated by CBS Television Distribution. Like Wheel and Jeopardy, Edition is a former King World show.

Overall, Litton’s weekly E/I block Weekend Adventure, which targets kids and adults, topped all comers in syndication with an eye-popping 6.7 rating.