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Jun 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

‘Weakest Link’ headed to 3 CBS O&Os

As speculated in Electronic Media’s June 18 issue, three of the CBS-owned TV stations have acquired the syndicated edition of NBC’s hit “Weakest Link” game show, which is set to be produced and distributed in January 2002 by NBC Enterprises Domestic Syndication.

CBS O&Os WCBS-TV in New York, WPIX-TV in San Francisco and WJZ-TV in Baltimore have picked up “Link” for its Monday-Friday strip debut beginning approximately Jan. 2, a CBS spokesman confirmed. Station rep sources said CBS initialed single-year pacts, with options to renew for an unspecified number of additional seasons.

As previously reported, the CBS O&O group is still seriously considering the additional syndie pickup of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” from Buena Vista Television to pair with “Link” as a game show block in some key markets. Syndication hosts have yet to be named for either “Link” or “Millionaire.”

The deal for “Link” underscores the CBS O&O group’s intent to bolster its lower-rated weekday afternoon time slots. That’s especially true in top-ranked New York, where WCBS is currently airing repeats of Paramount Domestic Television’s “Entertainment Tonight” and originals of King World Productions’ “Inside Edition” at 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (After this season, “Inside Edition” is moving across town to Tribune Broadcasting’s WPIX-TV).

However, WCBS is going to be premiering Studios USA’s psychic-based “Crossing Over With John Edward” in the 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. slot beginning Aug. 27. The scheduling move, combined with WCBS’s acquisition of “Link,” is fueling some reps’ speculation that the Eye Network flagship could use “Link” (and possibly “Millionaire”) as “insurance” in the 3 p.m. hour if “Crossing Over” stumbles in the ratings.

Still, some reps also suggest “Link” or another game show (possibly including Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “$100,000 Pyramid” or Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s “Let’s Make a Deal”) could fill in the 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. block if WCBS were to decide to scrap its perennially bottom-ranked early newscast. During the most recent May sweeps, WCBS’s 4 p.m. news averaged a 1.4 rating/4 share household average in Nielsen Media Research’s metered market measure. By comparison in the 4 p.m. hour, WNBC’s “Judge Judy” (Paramount) scored a 5.4/15 and WABC-TV’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (King World) posted a 4.2/12 average during sweeps.

A CBS spokesman declined to confirm or deny any of those potential scheduling scenarios, but noted that all three CBS O&Os, including those in San Francisco and Baltimore, have made commitments to air “Link” in early fringe (afternoons). However, sources also say there are performance clauses which could allow the CBS O&Os to downgrade “Link” based on its ratings.

‘Fear Factor’/’Weakest Link’ combo shores up NBC ratings win: Coming off scoring the highest adults 18 to 49 ratings for a non-sports event during the week of June 11, NBC’s oft-criticized “Fear Factor” reality series combined with “Weakest Link” last night to deliver NBC another important Monday win in most key demos and households.

Leading the evening, “Fear Factor’s” 4.6 rating/15 share score in adults 18 to 49 at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) beat CBS’s second-ranked repeats of “King of Queens” (3.1/11) and “Yes, Dear” (2.7/9) by 50-percent-plus margins, according to comparable Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.

“Fear Factor’s” adults 18 to 49 score did mark a 10 percent decline from its premiere on June 11 (5.1/17), but the outrageous stunts show improved 6 percent week to week in adults 18 to 34 (to a 5.6/21), indicating it has a youth appeal similar to MTV’s much-maligned “Jackass.” “Factor’s” female teen demo score of 3.6/15 was up 13 percent from last week.

“Fear Factor” provided a strong springboard for the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. run of “Weakest Link,” which won the hour in adults 18 to 49 (5.2/15) and adults 18 to 34 (5.9/19) but was down 13 percent and 2 percent, respectively, week to week. Overall, “Fear Factor” posted a 6.6/12 household average (representing 10.2 million adults) while “Link” came in at a 7.8/13 household score (11.9 million viewers), with both shows down slightly more than 10 percent week to week.

NBC won Monday night in adults 18 to 49 (4.3/12), though it was down 12 percent week to week, while CBS won in households (7.5/13) for the night.

During the week of June 11, outside of NBC’s telecasts of games 4 and 5 of the NBA Finals, which posted top-ranked 9.0/27 and 7.3/25 scores in adults 18 to 49, “Weakest Link’s” 6.0/17 and “Fear Factor’s” 5.2/17 averages in the demo made the shows the highest-ranked entertainment programs in Nielsen’s final national measurements that week. As part of NBC’s first major forays into alternative programming formats, “Weakest Link” and “Fear Factor” also played major parts in the Peacock Network winning the week in adults 18 to 49 (3.9/13), households ( 6.3/12) and total viewers (9.4 million).

Los Angeles stations score big with Lakers parade: KABC-TV and Fox-owned KTTV broadcast extensive coverage of the NBA champion Lakers’ parade Monday in Los Angeles, pre-empting regular programming from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. KABC was the big ratings winner, earning a 7.3 Nielsen Media Research rating and 26 share for the two hours. KABC peaked at noon at 9.7/32; its average was higher than any of its network program averages for the month so far. Its broadcast of “The View,” for example, is getting an average of 3.5/13 so far in June. KABC also scored higher than it did during last year’s parade, helped by the fact that rival KNBC-TV, which had parade coverage from 10 a.m., had to switch at 11 a.m. to the network’s U.S. Open golf playoff. For its one-hour coverage of the parade, hosted by David Cruz and Kelly Mack, KNBC-TV earned a 4.7/18. KNBC had a delayed airing of the parade from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., which earned a 3.6/11. For the same event last year, KABC and KNBC competed head to head, with KABC scoring a 4.3/13 and KNBC winning with a 5.8/19.

Showtime headed for ‘Hell’: Showtime is going to hell — to “Mr. Hell,” that is — in its pursuit of the 18 to 24 demographic. Viacom’s premium pay service has picked up the animated “It’s the Mr. Hell Show” for Showtime Next, its recently launched multiplex channel targeting Generation Y.

“Hell,” from the Vancouver-based Sextant Entertainment Group, will debut the first of 13 episodes this fall. Showtime has a second-season option, also for 13 episodes, on the British-Canadian co-production.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications