News is bad for King World’s ‘Oprah’

In a rare occurrence, King World’s “Oprah Winfrey Show” lost nearly a third of its audience in the week following the November sweeps.

The Nielsen national barter rankings for the period ended Dec. 12 show “Oprah” sinking 32% from the previous week to a 10th-place finish of 7.1 — its worst performance since the week ending Sept. 6, 1987.

Even with the massive loss — it took the worst plunge of any daily syndicated series during the week –“Oprah” remained the nation’s leading talkshow.

Subject slippage

The show underwent a change in focus the week it suffered its unprecedented ratings slide, straying from the usual diet of sexy subjects to concentrate on more newsworthy topics.

Additionally, it faced preemptions in eight markets covering roughly 3% of the country (although at 96% coverage it still had the highest clearance level of any talker).

A number of other talkshows suffered depressed ratings without the sweeps hype, including Multimedia’s “Jerry Springer” (dropping 14% to 1.9) and “Sally Jessy Raphael” (falling 13% to 4.8).

Warner Bros.’ canceled “Jane Whitney Show,” which is headed to NBC’s daytime sked, slipped 13% from the previous week to 2.0, while Paramount’s “Maury Povich Show” lost 8% to 3.6.

On the plus side, Multimedia’s “Donahue” rose 4% in the post-sweeps week to a second-place mark of 5.0.

Of this season’s new talkshows, Columbia’s “Ricki Lake” jumped 4% to 2.7, while Twentieth TV’s “Bertice Berry” remained at 2.3 for the second straight week. King World’s canceled “Les Brown” fell 4% to 2.2.

In latenight, Par’s “The Arsenio Hall Show” dived 13% to 2.1, while Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh” sagged 5% to 3.5.

Among the newsmag strips, Par’s “Hard Copy” dipped 6% to 6.8 from its record mark of 7.2 the previous week, but the series — which has been upgraded in several key markets this season — still beat Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair” (down 2% to 6.5) for the second consecutive week.

Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” came out of the sweeps down 6% to 8.1 but still well ahead of the rest of the pack.

King World’s “Inside Edition” stayed flat at 7.5, while their “American Journal” decreased 5% to 4.1.

‘Trek’ lifts off

In the weekly category, Par’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” rose 10% to 12 .8 from an 11.6 the previous week. But the syndicator’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” was down 22% from the previous week, landing at 6.9.

Cannell’s “Cobra” (3.7) slithered to a 9% gain, while Par’s “The Untouchables” (4.3) surrendered 9%.

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