No Breakout Series Emerging

Oct 17, 2005  •  Post A Comment

In its third week on the air, Twentieth Television’s new courtroom show “Judge Alex” continued its hold on the top spot among new syndicated strips in household ratings, moving up 5 percent over its premiere week.

In addition, Warner Bros.’ talk strip “The Tyra Banks Show” stood out among the freshmen by posting growth in households and key women demos for the week ended Oct. 2, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Even with increases for “Alex” and “Tyra,” however, none of the new strips is changing the overall competitive syndication landscape, said John Rash, senior VP and director of broadcast operations for Campbell Mithun.

“There are small successes and some audience challenges, but the transcendent story is once again there is no breakout show that defines a genre or reorients the ratings race,” Mr. Rash said.

“Alex” scored a 2.2 national household rating in its third week in syndication, a 10 percent increase over its performance the previous week.

NBC Universal’s “Martha,” starring Martha Stewart, scored a 1.6 rating, down 6 percent from the previous week and a 20 percent decline from its premiere. Supermodel Tyra Banks’ “Tyra,” which added second runs in a handful of markets in its third week, grew 15 percent from the previous week to a 1.5, a 36 percent jump from its debut week performance.

In the talk genre, “Martha” is ranked eighth out of 11 shows in households for the week, while “Tyra” comes in at ninth, well below the reigning queen of talk shows, King World’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (7.1), and the second-strongest performer, King World’s “Dr. Phil” (5.1). In the courtroom genre, “Alex” ranked sixth out of seven for the week, with Paramount’s “Judge Judy” (4.5) and “Judge Joe Brown” (2.9) in solid No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively.

Among the female demos, “Tyra” outperformed the other two new strips. In the women 18 to 34 demo, “Tyra” was up 33 percent from its premiere week to a 1.2, compared with “Martha’s” 43 percent drop (0.4) and “Alex’s” 13 percent decline (0.7).

In women 18 to 49, “Tyra” hit a 1.1 for the week, growing 38 percent from its debut, while “Martha” declined 22 percent to a 0.7 and “Alex” dropped 10 percent to a 0.9. Even in women 25 to 54, presumably a better demo for Ms. Stewart, “Tyra” scored a 1.0, a 25 percent increase over

its debut, compared with “Martha’s” 0.9, which was down 18 percent from its premiere week. “Alex” was down 9 percent from its premiere week to tie “Tyra” with a 1.0.

“Martha’s” week-to-week declines in syndication, plus the modest ratings for her new weekly prime-time reality series, shows viewer interest in Ms. Stewart may not be enough to sustain six hours of programming per week, Mr. Rash said.

“The Martha Stewart phenomenon was one more of her personal travails and the social comment on our times than it was a real desire to watch more than one version of her on television,” he said. “The more interesting Martha Stewart story is her personal and professional trajectory, as opposed to her network or syndicated show.”

Among off-network comedy strips, both Buena Vista’s “My Wife and Kids” and Twentieth’s “The Bernie Mac Show” scored a 2.2 in their third week of syndication, with each show growing 5 percent from the previous week.

In their second week in syndication, Warner Bros.’ “Sex and the City” was even with a 2.0, while Debmar/Mercury’s “South Park” held steady for the week with a 1.4.

The top off-network weekly one-hour was the debuting “24” from Twentieth, which scored a 2.5. In its second week, Buena Vista’s “Alias” declined 8 percent to a 2.3, while the third week of Program Partners’ “Da Vinci’s Inquest” was up 12 percent over the previous week to hit a 1.9. In its second week, Warner Bros.’ “Smallville” was flat with a 1.7, while Sony’s “Stargate: Atlantis” was down 12 percent from its debut week to a 1.5. Paramount’s “Enterprise” grew 25 percent from its first week to a 1.5.