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`ET’ outplays, outwits rivals

Feb 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The first two weekdays and first weekend of the all-important February sweeps left talk shows and newsmagazines in a jolly winter mood, as most series in the genres were up, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Thanks to a returning “Survivor,” Paramount Domestic Television’s “Entertainment Tonight” thrived under the pressure with a number of features about the reality drama. “ET” scored its highest rating of the year to take third place overall for the first time this season, with a 9 percent jump to a 7.0 household score.
Only two other series claimed season highs that week, with Universal Television’s “Blind Date” landing an all-time high of a 2.2, up 10 percent, while off-net runs of “Suddenly Susan” rose 12 percent to a best-yet 1.9.
No major talk show was down for the week. King World Productions’ “Inside Edition” was up 3 percent to a 3.3, tying Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s “Extra,” which was flat for the week. “Access Hollywood” also drew more attention for the week, up 8 percent to a 2.8 score.
The talk crowd was almost uniformly higher for the week, led by King World’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” with a 10 percent rise to a 6.7 for first place among talk shows. Buena Vista Television’s “Live With Regis” gained 5 percent to a 4.1, besting Studios USA Domestic Television’s “Jerry Springer,” which was up 8 percent to a 3.9.
Studios USA’s “Maury” was right behind with a 9 percent rise to a 3.8. Paramount’s “Montel Williams” strip remained flat for the period at a 3.1, tying Warner’s “Rosie,” which was up 3 percent. Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “Ricki Lake” jumped 4 percent to a 2.6, edging Studios USA’s “Sally Jessy Raphael,” which, at 2.5, was up 4 percent. “Jenny Jones” rounded out the pack as the only other talk show to break a 2.0, with a 5 percent rise to a 2.2.
As the weeklies entered their first weekend of sweeps, the top two hours came out strong. Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” weekend edition grew 20 percent for the week to a 4.2, the biggest increase of any major hour, and Tribune Entertainment’s rookie sensation “Andromeda” rocketed up 11 percent to a 3.9 for second place in the category.
Warner Bros.’ off-net runs of “ER” grew 13 percent to a 3.6 and Twentieth’s “The X-Files” slipped 11 percent to a 4.3. Studios USA’s “Xena” and MGM Worldwide Television’s “Stargate SG-1” were the only other series in the genre to break the 3.0 barrier, with “Xena” down 6 percent to a 3.3 while “Stargate” was unchanged at a 3.0.