Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show won bragging rights for the official fall syndication premiere week. Ellen averaged a 2.9 household rating/8 share and a 1.8/11 in women 25-54 in the metered markets, improving on its September 2011 average by a big 45% in households and 64% in women 25-54, in part thanks to a stronger lead-in on the NBC stations from newbie Steve Harvey. Ellen also was pretty steady through the week, starting with a 3.1 HH rating for its 10th-season premiere and finishing with a 2.9 on Friday.

Another returning show to improve on its September 2011 performance was Live! With Kelly And Michael (2.8/10 in HH, 1.6/11 in W25-54), which debuted a week earlier. It posted the biggest fall premiere HH rating this year (3.3) for its September 4 opener, which introduced Kelly Ripa’s new permanent co-host Michael Strahan. Its Week 2 averages were up 4% and 14%, respectively, from September 2011 when the show was co-hosted by Regis Philbin. Dr. Phil, which started its season a day later than planned because of U.S. Open tennis coverage, finished third overall (2.4/7, down 8%; 1.0/6, down 17%).

Finishing No. 4 overall and No. 1 among all freshman talk shows was Katie (2.3/7, even with the September 2011 time-slot average, 1.2/7, down 14%). The show got off to a strong start on Monday with a 2.8/8 and a 1.6/9. It subsequently dropped to a 1.7/5 and 0.8/5 on Thursday but rebounded Friday with Jennifer Lopez as guest (2.2/6, 1.1/7). Steve Harvey finished as a solid No. 2 new syndicated talk show (1.4/4 in HH, 40% time-slot improvement, 0.9/6 in W 25-54, up 80%). Trailing the pack were Jeff Probst (0.8/3, 0.5/3) and Ricki Lake (0.7/2, 0.4/2), though Jeff Probst was able to tie sophomore Anderson Live (1.2/4, 0.5/4) in the demo.

Last week, there were a number of pre-emptions for 9/11 programming, and Steve Harvey and Jeff Probst’s numbers Friday skewed lower because of network cut-ins for the State Department’s ceremony on the four Americans killed in Libya, so the metered market averages will likely undergo adjustments in the finals.