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‘Martha,’ ‘Tyra’ Show Promise

Sep 26, 2005  •  Post A Comment

The distributors of syndication’s two highest-profile freshman strips, NBC Universal’s “Martha” and Warner Bros.’ “The Tyra Banks Show,” remained optimistic about their shows’ prospects as the second week of ratings data for the series came in last week.

Ratings for NBC Universal’s “Martha” slipped in its second week in syndication, but the show continued to improve upon most of its year-ago time period averages.

“Tyra Banks” posted increases in ratings from its premiere week to week two and also got a boost in the show’s target demographic of females 18 to 34, a hard-to-reach group during daytime.

The other two freshman strips, Twentieth Television’s “Judge Alex” and Atlas’s “Eye for an Eye,” were flat week to week.

Meanwhile, the debut of two new off-cable properties featuring envelope-pushing content, Warner Bros.’ “Sex and the City” and Debmar/Mercury’s “South Park,” both failed to make ratings waves.

In four days last week “Martha” averaged a 2.0 household rating and 7 share weighted metered-market average for its primary runs, down 9 percent from the previous week.

“We’re very happy with the early numbers,” said Barry Wallach, president of NBC Universal Domestic Television. “The feedback has been very positive on the format and the mix of entertainment and information.”

The metered market numbers have “Martha” gaining on its lead-in and improving its time period in most markets.

When national ratings come out this week “I think there’s no way it won’t be the highest new launch since the ‘Dr. Phil’ show,” Mr. Wallach said.

Despite a slight ratings slip in its second week, it’s “So far so good for ‘Martha,'” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of television for Katz Television Group.

Ratings for “Tyra” rose 15 percent in week two to a 1.3/4. The gain might actually even have been bigger because one of the show’s strongest markets, Houston, was out of the sample due to evacuations ahead of Hurricane Rita.

In a stunt that drew both ratings and media attention, Ms. Banks underwent a sonogram on-air during last Tuesday’s episode to prove her breasts are real. She told the audience she was tired of rumors that her breasts are fake. “It’s followed me forever,” Ms. Banks said.

Dr. Garth Fisher of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” performed the test, with help from a female assistant who operated the sonogram probe.

In addition, “Tyra” gained week to week in its target demo, Local People Meter data showed. It was up 44 percent among women 18 to 34 and increased its time slot by 225 percent. “Tyra” also rose 25 percent among women 18 to 49.

“In the LPM sample in women 18 to 34, which they say is their target, they have a pretty good story,” Mr. Carroll said. But the LPMs cover only seven major markets.

In the LPM markets, “Tyra” had a higher rating among women 18 to 49, but Mr. Carroll said the two shows were hard to compare because of the stations they are on, and with just seven markets reporting demographic ratings, “I don’t know that’s particularly indicative of what’s taking place.”

“We’re optimistic. We think we’re off to a respectable start,” Mr. Paratore said.

Among other original syndicated shows, “Judge Alex” drew a 1.7/5 in its second week, unchanged from week one. “Eye for an Eye” was also unchanged at 0.6/2.

In the off-network game, “Sex,” which airs in mostly late-fringe time periods, averaged a 2.1 rating and 4 share in its first four days.

The show appeared to be drawing young women to the stations on which it airs, said Jim Paratore, executive VP of Warner Brother Domestic Television Distribution. Last Thursday, despite local news lead-ins that had very small shares among women 18 to 34, “Sex” drew double-digit shares in that demo on stations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

“South Park,” which airs mostly in late-night time periods, drew a 1.2/3 in its first four days.

Two other new off-net sitcoms, which debuted the previous week, showed small gains week to week. Twentieth’s “The Bernie Mac Show” rose to a 1.7/3 in week two from 1.6/3. And Buena Vista Television’s “My Wife and Kids” rose to a 1.6/3 from a 1.5/3.

Mr. Carroll said there were few surprises in the performance of returning shows.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” started with a bang with guest Jennifer Aniston on Monday, drawing a whopping 6.7 rating and 17 share-though not as big a bang as last year, when Oprah Winfrey gave away cars to audience members. “Oprah’s” average over four days last week was 5.4/14.