Syndie season has a few bright spots

Sep 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

As the 2000-01 season officially ends for syndicated series during the next few weeks, ratings erosion continues to hit several strips and weeklies. In tallies comparing cumulative averages for series against the previous year, no genre was able to completely escape the trend. But more than a few shows have weathered the storm well.
For the advertiser-oriented gross average audience ratings, which are specifically ordered when one or more markets air repeat telecasts so tuning and viewing is counted each time, demographic scores held up fairly consistently for shows that finished at the top of the heap.
As for rookie series graduating to the sophomore plateau, Twentieth Television’s “Power of Attorney” and Tribune Entertainment’s “Andromeda” finished at the top of the class for strips and weekly series, respectively. “Power” finished with a 2.8 GAA household average, with Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “Judge Hatchett” second at a 2.4 rating. “Andromeda” warped the competition with a 3.3, followed by “Nash Bridges” at a 2.3 and “Maximum Exposure” at a 2.0.
Talk shows, the most prominent genre among first-run series, ended the season with four series off last year’s scores by double digits. “Ricki” finished with a 2.5 household score, down 11 percent; “Jerry Springer” earned a 3.9 rating, down 17 percent; “Rosie O’Donnell” took home a 2.8 for a loss of 20 percent; and “Sally Jessy Raphael” was hit hardest at a 2.4, off 27 percent. Three of those series also suffered blows in the key female 18 to 49 demographic, with “Springer” off four-tenths of a point, “Rosie” down three-tenths and “Sally” sliding half a ratings point.
On the upside, one strip outperformed last season’s numbers. Buena Vista Television’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” averaged a 3.8 rating, 6 percent above the previous season’s 3.6 average. The show also increased its female 18 to 49 demo by a tenth of a point.
Among court shows, every veteran fared worse than the previous year, thanks to almost double the number of strips airing in the genre. Of the group, Twentieth’s “Divorce Court” fared the best with a 3.8 GAA household average, a decline of 7 percent. On the flip side, Telepictures Distribution’s “People’s Court” weathered a change of judge during the course of the season to finish with a 1.9 average, a loss of 27 percent. Within the key female 18 to 49 demo, Paramount Domestic Television’s “Judge Joe Brown” fared the best with a drop of only a tenth of a point.
Among game shows, Pearson Television’s “Family Feud” won bragging rights as the only strip to show growth year to year, finishing with a 2.9 GAA rating, up 7 percent. King World’s “Hollywood Squares” tipped the other end of the scales with a 17 percent drop for a 3.5 finish. Rookie “Street Smarts” made an impression in both male and female 18 to 49 demos with a solid debut of 1.2 and 1.4, respectively
Among the relationship crowd, Universal Television’s “Blind Date” finished the year with a 20 percent improvement over its debut season in 1999 with a 2.4 GAA average. The series also gained in the demos, including a rise of three-tenths of a point among males 18 to 49 to a 1.4.
For the off-network crowd, “Friends” continued to dominate the demographics to finish first in both key areas. However, the entire genre showed erosion. “3rd Rock From the Sun” fared best with a modest 3 percent drop to a 3.4 GAA rating, while “Drew Carey” lost 18 percent with a 3.6 tally.
In the weekly race, only one hour-long program in the top 10 showed improvement over the previous year. “Entertainment Tonight’s” weekend edition rose 6 percent year to year to finish with a 3.6 GAA average. Among off-network sitcoms airing on weekends, Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” took the win with a rise of six-tenths of a point in households with a 4.3, including growth of four-tenths of a point among women 18 to 49.