Holiday Doldrums Sap Syndie Shows

Jan 1, 2007  •  Post A Comment

A traditionally weak week for syndicators maintained a troublesome holiday tradition with few programs showing improvement for the week ending Dec. 17, according to Nielsen Media Research.

With most shows in repeats, potential viewers out of their living rooms doing their holiday shopping and severe storms in the northwest knocking out power and ratings from the Portland, Ore., and Seattle areas, stations once again faced the holiday blues.

Good news, however, surfaced amid the weekly first-run hours, where Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight Weekend” and NBC Universal’s “Access Hollywood Weekend” both saw double-digit increases. “Entertainment Tonight” hit a 2.7 rating, up 13 percent over the previous week and up 17 percent over the same period in 2005. Meanwhile, “Access” had its own strong run, rising 13 percent in weekly and yearly comparisons to a 1.8.

Among strips, the talk show genre saw no growth this week, with each of the seven top series declining and the rest holding even. One program, King World’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” hit its worst score of the season with a 6.0 rating. In fact, most talk shows were down by double-digit percentages versus the same period in 2005 with the exception of “Dr. Phil,” which was off 6 percent versus the previous year and 10 percent for the week at a 4.7 rating.

Court shows saw every veteran in the genre down from last year’s numbers except for Warner Bros.’ “Judge Greg Mathis,” which held even at a 2.4, down a tenth of a point from the previous week. Category leader “Judge Judy” was off 2 percent for the week at a 4.7.

“Access Hollywood” and “Geraldo at Large” were the only newsmagazines to avoid syndication’s annual holiday downtrend, both holding even week-to-week with scores of 2.6 and 1.6, respectively. Warners’ “Extra” suffered the biggest percentage drop in the genre, falling 9 percent to match a season-low 2.0 score.

Taking the biggest hit for the week were the big three off-net series, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Seinfeld” and “Friends.” All three were down 20 percent or more compared to 2005 numbers. “Raymond” earned a 5.3 rating, down 2 percent for the week but off 20 percent compared to the same period last year. “Seinfeld” slid 21 percent from last year to a 4.6, despite holding even for the week. “Friends” dropped 25 percent in year-to-year comparisons, earning a 3.8 for the week.