Syndication Ratings: A weak week before sweeps

May 7, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The last full week before May sweeps saw a less-than-stellar reaction to most syndicated shows as reruns and daylight-saving time prevented few sparks in the ratings for the week ending April 22, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Seven series hit new season lows in the time frame, compared with only one series the previous week, but the top newsmagazines saw upticks, thanks to original programming. Heading into sweeps, the top 20 series among women 18 to 49 saw drops by as much as a full point in April compared with the February book.

Among the weeklies, there were widespread downturns as two series hit season lows. Paramount Domestic Television’s “Queen of Swords” suffered the biggest decline with a 27 percent slide to a 0.8 to mark its lowest rating ever during its one-year life span. But even the veterans weren’t immune, since Studios USA Domestic Television’s departing “Xena” hit its own valley with an 8 percent dip to a season low of a 2.4 rating.

Among the strips, the news was no better as syndicators saved their best for sweeps. The result found three freshmen strips and two veteran court shows sliding to season lows. One-time contender “Arrest & Trial” from Studios USA slipped 13 percent to a 1.4 rating, thanks largely to its downgrades on the Chris-Craft Industries stations that acquired “Seinfeld.” Even Twentieth Television’s rookie hit “Power of Attorney” wasn’t able to beat the trend, and it slid 13 percent to a 2.0. But the series still finished as the top first-run strip, tying Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “Judge Hatchett”-and “Power” yet to outright lose a ratings race in households.

Off-net freshman “Spin City” from Paramount hit a new low of its own with an 8 percent slide to a 2.3 rating.

Among vets, Twentieth’s “Divorce Court” and Paramount’s departing “Judge Mills Lane” saw single-digit slides to their own season lows. “Divorce Court” fell 4 percent to a 2.7, while “Mills Lane” was off 7 percent to a 1.4.

On the positive side of the ratings, newsmagazines were almost uniformly up with Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” leading the pack at a 5.8, up 2 percent. Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s duo of “Extra” and “Access Hollywood” grew 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively, to ratings of 5.8 and 2.5. King World Productions’ “Inside Edition” was up 4 percent to a 2.8 score.

Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” regained some lost momentum since switching stations, rising 8 percent in its second cycle to a 4.3.

With April in the books, few series were able to gain any ground on the February sweeps, especially in the demos. Warner Bros.’ “Friends” continued to dominate the charts but lost a full point in month-to-month comparisons among women 18 to 49, falling from a 5.2 score to a 4.2.

Fellow former “Must See TV” staple “Seinfeld” fared little better in women 18 to 49, with a drop of seven-tenths of a ratings point despite the show’s ratings spike this week, falling from fourth to seventh.

Only two of the series ranked in the top 20 within the demographic for the month managed to avoid outright slides. Paramount’s “Frasier” managed to gain two-tenths of a ratings point, to a 3.4 and taking fourth place while Carsey-Werner-Mandabach’s “3rd Rock From the Sun” was flat during the period, allowing it to jump from 14th to 11th place.

Several series able to suffer only marginal losses in the demo included Buena Vista Television’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” slipping form a 2.0 to a 1.9. Studios USA’s “Jerry Springer” dropped two-tenths of a point with a 2.2 average in April, while court-show rivals “Divorce Court” and “Judge Joe Brown” slipped three-tenths of a point in comparisons.