First-Season Strips Sweep Up

Mar 21, 2005  •  Post A Comment

With all the numbers finally in, rookie syndicated strips had a strong February sweeps, while veteran entertainment newsmagazines saw declines compared with last year’s ratings period.

The highest-rated first-year strip was Paramount’s “The Insider,” which had an average 2.9 household rating for the sweeps, according to Nielsen Media Research. “Insider” was up 21 percent from its debut week in September, and scored its best day ever Feb. 28 (3.3) with its post-Academy Awards coverage.

The No. 2 rookie was the recently canceled NBC Universal strip “The Jane Pauley Show,” which scored a 1.9 rating for the sweeps, flat with its debut week average. “Pauley” was the only rookie that failed to grow from its launch. Buena Vista’s “The Tony Danza Show” was up 8 percent from its debut week to a 1.3, while Twentieth’s “Ambush Makeover” grew 22 percent to a 1.1. Warner Bros.’ “The Larry Elder Show” was up 25 percent from its first week on the air to a 1.0 for February. Both of Sony’s new strips saw growth from their debuts as well: “Pat Croce: Moving In” was up 17 percent to a 0.7 and “Life & Style” was up 20 percent to a 0.6.

With the transition to Nielsen’s new Local People Meters TV ratings system in the top three markets, the national sample is measured differently than it was a year ago. It is unclear whether the new measuring devices have significantly altered the national ratings in such a way that year-to-year comparisons are no longer valid.

The courtroom genre was the only category in which no strips lost ground. Paramount’s “Judge Judy” remained the genre leader, growing 2 percent from last year’s February sweeps to a 5.4. Paramount’s “Judge Joe Brown” was even for February with a 3.7, while Twentieth’s “Divorce Court” grew 15 percent to a 3.0. Warner Bros.’ “Judge Mathis” was up 13 percent to a 2.7, Twentieth’s “Texas Justice” was up 5 percent to a 2.1 and Sony’s “Judge Hatchett” was unchanged with a 2.0.

“Insider,” which was the third-highest-rated entertainment newsmagazine for the sweeps, had the distinction of being the only show in its genre to show growth. “Insider” progenitor “Entertainment Tonight” was down 8 percent from last February to a 5.7, while King World’s “Inside Edition” was down 3 percent for the sweeps to a 3.8. NBC Universal’s “Access Hollywood” was down 16 percent for the sweeps to a 2.7, Warner Bros.’ “Extra” was down 21 percent to a 2.3 and Warner Bros.’ “Celebrity Justice” was down 15 percent to a 1.1.

Among talkers, the sweeps performance was more of a split. Four shows saw growth: genre leader “The Oprah Winfrey Show” gained 9 percent from last February to an 8.5, while fellow King World talk strip and No. 2 in the genre “Dr. Phil” grew 5 percent to a 6.0. Warner Bros.’ “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” was up 14 percent to a 2.4 and NBC Universal’s “Starting Over” grew 9 percent to a 1.2.

Talk Is Cheap

Only one talk strip, NBC Universal’s “Maury,” (3.3) was flat from last year’s sweeps. Four other talkers were down: Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis and Kelly” dropped 7 percent to a 3.8, Paramount’s “The Montel Williams Show” slipped 4 percent to a 2.6, NBC Universal’s “The Jerry Springer Show” was down 4 percent to a 2.3 and the recently canceled “Good Day Live” from Twentieth was down 9 percent to a 1.0.

The top-rated show for the sweeps was King World’s “Wheel of Fortune,” which grew 3 percent from last year to a 9.9. “Oprah” was ranked second overall, followed by King World’s other game show strip, “Jeopardy!” which was up 6 percent for the sweeps to an 8.3.

The top off-network strip was King World’s “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which grew 28 percent year to year to a 7.3. “Raymond’s” rise can be partly attributed to a new double run in access on Superstation WTBS. Sony’s “Seinfeld” was down 3 percent for the sweeps to a 6.4 and Warner Bros.’ “Friends” was down 8 percent to a 5.8. Twentieth’s “That ’70s Show” and “King of the Hill” were tied at 3.3, with “’70s” down 20 percent from last year and “King” unchanged.

The top off-net rookie was King World’s weekly hour “CSI,” which scored a 5.7, up 33 percent from its September debut. Twentieth’s “Malcolm in the Middle” grew 29 percent from its September launch week to a 3.6, Twentieth’s “Yes, Dear” was up 33 percent to a 2.0, NBC Universal’s “Fear Factor” was up 13 percent to a 1.8, and Paramount’s “Girlfriends” grew 14 percent from its debut week to a 1.6.