Off-net sitcoms shine during sweeps

Dec 16, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Despite homes-using-television levels dropping across the board, viewers warmed to syndicated series during the November book, especially to off-network sitcoms, according to Nielsen Media Research.
A trio of series received holiday rewards as “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “Home Improvement” all benefited from their new cable runs this season. Warner Bros.’ “Friends” led the pack with an 11 percent jump over November 2001 to a 7.3 rating in its fifth season.
“Seinfeld” took the No. 2 slot for distributor Sony, rising 6 percent to a 6.9 rating, while Buena Vista’s “Home Improvement” skyrocketed 127 percent for the sweeps period to a 3.4 average in its eighth season.
King World’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” grew 16 percent in its sophomore November outing to a third-place 6.4 rating. Rookies “Will & Grace” and “That ’70s Show” filled up the next two rankings with scores of 4.4 and 3.8, respectively, in their freshman sweeps.
Sophomore “King of the Hill” rose 30 percent to a 3.5 average for the period.
Speaking of comfortable television, audiences flocked to King World’s potent duo of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Dr. Phil.” “Oprah” was the sole talker to show year-to-year growth, rising 9 percent to a 6.3. Fortunately, the series never had to compete directly on any stations with spinoff “Dr. Phil,” which landed second in its first November sweeps with a 4.5. Other series weren’t so lucky.
Third place fell to Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” at a 3.5, down 10 percent sweeps-to-sweeps, followed by Universal’s “Maury,” which was even for the period at a 3.2 and “Jerry Springer” at a 2.7, down 7 percent. Veterans “Montel,” “Jenny Jones” and “Ricki Lake” were all off for the year, scoring a 2.6, 1.6 and 1.6, respectively.
Among rookie talk shows, “John Walsh” came in second behind “Dr. Phil” with a 1.3 rating. Telepictures’ “Caroline Rhea” and Twentieth’s “The Rob Nelson Show” scored a 1.1. “Beyond With James Van Praagh” earned a 1.0, and “Life Moments” pulled a 0.9 average.
Court shows managed to weather the erosion storm fairly well, with Twentieth’s “Divorce Court” and Telepictures’ “The People’s Court” managing to gain despite the trend, while “Judge Joe Brown” was even at a 3.4 for the period.
“Divorce Court” was up 4 percent to a 2.8 score, while “People’s Court” rose 5 percent to a 2.1 rating. Genre leader “Judge Judy” was down 12 percent to a 5.3; “Judge Greg Mathis” slipped 26 percent to a 1.7; and “Judge Hatchett” fell 11 percent to a 1.6. “Texas Justice” nabbed a 2.1 score on its first November sweeps outing.
Among game shows, King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” remained on top despite slipping 5 percent to a 9.5, with fellow King World brethren “Jeopardy” No. 2 at a 7.5, a dip of 11 percent. Buena Vista took the new third place title with rookie “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” at a 2.8, edging out “Hollywood Squares” at a 2.6. Freshman strip “Pyramid” averaged a 1.8 on its sweeps debut, followed by three shows at 1.7: “Family Feud” (down 26 percent), “Blind Date” (off 6 percent) and “Elimidate” (up a strong 21 percent).
Newsmagazines saw the entry of “Celebrity Justice” onto the charts with a 1.3 rating, despite a plethora of late-night time slots. “Entertainment Tonight” dipped 6 percent to a 6.1; “Inside Edition” grew 3 percent to a 3.4; and “Extra” was off 3 percent to a 2.9, as was “Access Hollywood,” which fell to a 2.8.