TV Ratings: 'Dr. Phil' Pulls a Season Best 4.8 Million Viewers With Manti Te'o Hoaxer

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Six months into the 2011-12 season -- the first in a quarter-century without Winfrey dominating afternoons -- "Dr. Phil" has established a firm grip on the top spot among talk shows and has widened its lead in recent weeks.

The top-performing syndicated talker kicks off the February sweep on a high note, topping Katie Couric's audience for her sitdown with the scammed Notre Dame player himself.

Dr. Phil’s interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the Internet hoaxer behind the highly publicized Manti Te'o catfishing scam, gave the talk show host his most-watched episode in what has already been a very strong season -- and helped him kick off the February sweep with a first-place finish among all syndicated talk shows.

According to national syndicated ratings released Tuesday, covering the week of Jan. 31 through Feb. 3, Dr. Phil’s sitdown pulled in a 3.4 households rating, roughly 4.8 million viewers.

That was up 17 percent over his season-to-date average of 3.1 in households and marks the 17th week he has been the top talk show out of 20 weeks this season. (He was in repeats the other three weeks.)

The big haul puts Dr. Phil ahead of Katie Couric’s interview with Te’o himself (3.8 million viewers) and even Oprah Winfrey's first interview with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong (3.2 million viewers) -- though the OWN series is not syndicated.

Still for the week, Dr. Phil was actually down 3 percent compared to the prior week with an average household rating of 3.2, which is an average of 4.2 million viewers a day. He also held steady at a 1.8 rating in the key women 25-54 demographic.

Among syndicated talk shows, second place was a tie between Live With Kelly & Michael and Ellen, which both scored a 2.8 household rating for the week, about 3.7 million viewers each. They also both had a 1.7 rating in the key demo, which was the same as the prior week for Ellen but up a healthy 6 percent for Live.

Live’s rating was up 4 percent over the same week the prior year, and matched a season high with its top rating since November 2011.

Dr. Oz also had a good week, posting a 4 percent increase in households to a 2.6 rating, which is about 3.5 million viewers a day on average.

And while Katie remains the top first-year talk show, its average for the week was down 9 percent from the prior week when she did her interview with Te’o. Her demo performance was also flat at a 1.1 rating.