Repeat of controversial ‘Seinfeld’ seg a sellout

Showing what a difference a few months and several rating points can make, an episode of “Seinfeld” that initially prompted advertiser pullouts will be repeated next Thursday — and advertisers are clamoring to buy time within the show.

The episode, titled “The Contest,” concerns what was euphemistically described as a “contest of self-denial” when it was first broadcast in November, while the Castle Rock Entertainment comedy was struggling on Wednesday nights.

Several advertisers were uncomfortable enough about the subject of masturbation (though the word was never used) to withdraw from the show.

Though NBC was easily able to secure buyers to replace them, the incident underscored the queasiness of media buyers when it comes to issues they deem to be controversial or in questionable taste.

NBC said it didn’t anticipate any problems regarding the airing April 29, which happens to be the first night of the May sweeps. It may also help this time that “Seinfeld”– three months after moving to follow “Cheers”– has become a bonafide hit.

“The Contest” segment originally posted a 13.0/19 last Nov. 18, the show’s highest rating this season on a Wednesday, airing opposite the high-rated miniseries “The Jacksons: An American Dream.”

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