Syndie ‘Montel,’ ‘Live’ hit best-ever ratings

Following a miserable holiday period, nearly every strip in syndication experienced double-digit percentage gains in the Nielsen national barter rankings for the year-ending week that concluded Jan. 3.

Two talkers–Viacom’s “The Montel Williams Show” and Buena Vista Television’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee”–recorded all-time highs in the Nielsen rankings.

“Live” earned a 4.8 rating during the week, beating its previous record of a 4.6 set the week of Nov. 9. The program is averaging a 4.2 rating season-to-date in its fifth year in syndication, up 17% from a 3.6 in the 1991-92 season and 68 % from its first-year average of a 2.5.

“Montel,” meanwhile, reached a 3.1 to continue an upward trend that began when the talker went into national syndication this past September. The show, which began in summer 1991 as a slow-rollout vehicle in a limited number of markets, has risen 48% since its 2.1 premiere mark this season and 35% over the previous week’s score of a 2.3.

Another talker, Tribune Entertainment’s “The Joan Rivers Show,” landed the biggest week-to-week increase of any strip, shooting up 41% to a 2.4 from a 1.7.

Late night talk strips proved to be the exception to the trend, with Paramount’s “The Arsenio Hall Show” falling 12% to a 2.9 from a 3.3, Genesis Entertainment’s “The Whoopi Goldberg Show” shedding 11% to a 1.9 from a 2.1, and Multimedia Entertainment’s “Rush Limbaugh” slipping 10% to a 2.8 from a 3.1.

Twentieth TV’s “Studs” remained flat with a 2.6 for the week. The somewhat toned-down relationship show is back mostly in late night time periods, following early fringe tryouts over the summer on some of the Fox O&Os.

The only top-15 strips unable to show double-digit percentage gains were Columbia Pictures TV Distribution’s “Married…with Children” (down 1% to a 7.4 from a 7.5 the previous week) and “Designing Women” (up 3% to a 6.6 from a 6.4).

The two off-net sitcoms were the only strips that counted the low-viewing Jan. 1 in their weekly averages. In contrast, King World’s magazine “Inside Edition” leapt 28% to a 7.8 from a 6.1 by counting only three days of the week.

Elsewhere, KW’s “Wheel of Fortune” charged ahead 19% to a 14.2 from an 11.9 with a four-day average, reclaiming the top spot from Par’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (which gained 7% to a 12.9 from a 12.1 a week earlier).

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