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‘Insider’ Tops Freshman Strips; ‘CSI’ Opens to Huge Numbers

Oct 4, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Entertainment newsmagazine “The Insider” and talkers “The Jane Pauley Show” and “The Tony Danza Show” scored the highest national household ratings among new syndicated strips for the week ended Sept. 19.

During the same week, the off-net debut of “CSI” more than doubled its nearest competitor in the ratings.

Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” spinoff “The Insider” scored a 2.4 household rating, the highest number for any of the first-run strips premiering Monday, Sept. 13, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was the highest-rated debut for a newsmagazine in syndication since “Access Hollywood” in 1996. “The Insider’s” first national number also beat “Extra’s” 2.2 for the week.

John Nogawski, president of Paramount Domestic Television, said he was happy with “The Insider’s” initial performance, but added that one week’s worth of ratings doesn’t make a season.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “We’re in this for the long haul. I’m really happy where we are today, and I expect to be much happier a year from now.”

NBC Universal’s “The Jane Pauley Show,” which premiered two weeks before “Insider” and “Danza,” scored a 1.5 rating, up 15 percent from its second-week average of 1.3 but down 6 percent from its debut-week average of 1.6.

“Pauley’s” third-week numbers came out the same week WKRN-TV in Nashville and KXAS-TV in Dallas downgraded the show from news lead-ins to morning runs.

“These two specific situations are somewhat unique,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming of Katz Television Group. “Both stations displaced programs they retained on their schedule. Certainly, they had to have concern. Their news was down significantly.”

But Mr. Carroll said the downgrades may have a silver lining for the show.

“They may help `Jane Pauley’ by putting her in a less competitive time period,” he said.

This week KATU-TV in Portland and WDSU-TV in New Orleans are also downgrading “Pauley.” In a statement, an NBC Universal spokesman addressed the downgrades, saying, “In some cases we are shifting time periods in an effort to continue growth of `The Jane Pauley Show.’ And with some of our initial moves, we’ve already seen some positive results.”

In Nashville “Pauley” averaged a 1.4 at 3 p.m. (CT) from its debut through Sept. 24, but starting Sept. 27, scored a three-day average of 1.8 at 11 a.m. However, “Pauley” was down 42 percent from its lead-in, “The View,” and down 46 percent from the previous 20-day average earned by the double run of “Judge Judy” it replaced in the time period.

In third place nationally among debuting strips was Buena Vista’s “Danza,” which scored a 1.2 national household rating. Lloyd Komisar, executive VP of strategic research at Buena Vista, said the number “was not unexpected given the coverage situation that we have.”

“Danza” airs in the middle of the night in Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston and is not even cleared in Washington.

“Our plan is to upgrade within the existing coverage we have, and then pick up additional stations,” he said, before explaining Buena Vista’s strategy for Washington. “You have the option to go into a market but accept a lesser clearance, or hold out for a better opportunity as the market shakes out. You hope to have that opportunity to expand that coverage.”

NBC Universal’s “Home Delivery” and Twentieth Television’s “Ambush Makeover” both came in with 0.9 for their first week in national syndication, with Telepictures’ “The Larry Elder Show” garnering a 0.8. Sony’s “Pat Croce: Moving In” scored a 0.6 rating, while that studio’s “Life & Style” got a 0.5.

Among the new comedies in off-net syndication, Twentieth Television’s “Malcolm in the Middle” scored a 2.8 rating, which Mr. Carroll said “seemed to be solid and, in the current environment, what people expected.”

Second among the new off-net sitcoms was Twentieth Television’s “Yes, Dear,” with a 1.5.

Paramount’s “Girlfriends” garnered a 1.4, which Mr. Carroll said “is in the range of what urban comedies have been delivering.”

In the world of off-net dramas, the one new entry made a splash. King World’s “CSI” scored a strong out-of-the-box 4.3 rating for its weekend runs, becoming the No. 1 off-network weekly in the market and more than doubling its next competitor, “The West Wing,” which scored a 1.9. “CSI’s” debut is the best launch of a scripted off-net program since “The X-Files” and “NYPD Blue” launched in syndication in 1997.

“It’s a phenomenon, and it’s the sort of thing that viewers at present can’t get enough of,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Television Group.

Moira Coffey, executive VP of research for King World Productions, said “CSI’s” new weekend run performed strong despite three versions airing in prime time and a cable run on Spike TV.

“Whatever the window you want to put it in, it ends up being a giant hit,” she said.

“CSI” was just one of the shows Ms. Coffey had to cheer about, since King World’s veteran performers “Jeopardy!” (8.5), “Wheel of Fortune” (8.4) and “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (7.8) and off-net comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond” (6.0) were the top four shows for the week among all syndicated programming.

Ms. Coffey said “Jeopardy!” appeared to be enjoying the continued benefits of the Ken Jennings effect. In addition “Oprah’s” Sept. 13 premiere, which became national news after a surprise car giveway to the entire studio audience, brought the top-rated talker its highest ratings since May and its best season premiere numbers since 1996.

“`Oprah’ had an unbelievable week,” she said. “She’s doing essentially sweep numbers at the beginning of the season.”