‘Wheel,’ ‘Jeopardy!’ tops in syndie sweeps

King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” showed no signs of abdicating their household ratings crowns as the February sweeps began.

In the delayed Nielsen national syndication barter rankings for the period ended Feb. 13, which corresponds to the first full week of the sweeps, “Wheel” ( 17.2) spun ahead 12% year-to-year while “Jeopardy!” (14.6) answered with an 11% gain.

Other syndie shows, however, were hampered by preemptions for severe winter snowstorms and distorted viewing patterns resulting from the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremonies.

Among the programs showing declines, the KW powerhouse “Oprah Winfrey” eased 4% to 12.5 from its score in the same week a year ago.

Falling ‘Star’

Paramount’s weekly “Star Trek: The Next Generation” tumbled 18% from the previous year to an 11.5, while companion “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” plunged 27% to 9.3.

The big news on the newsmag strip front was Par’s “Entertainment Tonight,” which jumped 10% year-to-year (and 11% week-to-week) to 9.9. It also received a 10.0 gross average rating, which encompasses duplicated viewing of the same episode.

‘E.T.’ gains ground

Its strong performance marked the first time that “E.T.” collared double-digit ratings since the week of Feb. 2, 1986, when it earned a 10.1.

The only other returning newsmag with a positive story to report during the week was Par’s “Hard Copy,” which soared 26% over the same week a year ago to a record 8.2.

KW’s “Inside Edition” slipped 4% from the previous year to 8.6. Viewers apparently preferred mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer to ice queen Tonya Harding,

Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair” fell 5% to 7.6 in the year-to-year comparisons.

The frosh KW entry “American Journal” also started off the sweeps right, rising 11% from the previous week to 5.2.

The biggest year-to-year gainer among top-10 shows during the week was Viacom’s off-net sitcom “Roseanne,” which jumped 22% to 8.9.

‘Cops’ tops

Twentieth TV’s off-Fox reality series “Cops” surged ahead 9% to cop its highest rating ever with a 6.3, a 9% rise over the previous week.

Meanwhile, the three talkshows reflecting the biggest percentage gains from last year have all improved their coverage levels.

‘Springer’ sprung

Multimedia’s “Jerry Springer” (up 6% in coverage) jumped a whopping 50% to 2. 7, Viacom’s “Montel Williams” (up 3%) gained 37% to 4.1 and Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” (up 5%) climbed 33% to 3.2.

Of the newcomers, KW’s “Rolonda” (2.1) and Tribune’s “Can We Shop?” (0.9) both inched up.

In latenight, Par’s “Arsenio Hall” lost 15% of his posse from a year ago, with the show falling to 2.2. Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh” rose 8% to 4.1.

Among weeklies, All American TV’s “Baywatch” improved 10% for a record 7.9.

Par’s “The Untouchables,” which looks like it is in its last season, got hit for the worst year-to-year loss in syndication as it dove 39% to 3.9.

‘Time’ off

WB’s “Time Trax” went off track with a 4.4, down 24% from the previous year’s mark of 5.8. Its newcomer, “Babylon 5,” fell 14% to 5.9 from the 6.9 it received two weeks earlier (the show’s numbers were reprocessed the previous week).

In the kids’ arena, Turner’s weekly “The New Adventures of Captain Planet” fell 21% year-to-year to 3.8. Buena Vista TV’s strip “Goof Troop” was off 27% to 2.7, while its “Darkwing Duck” sank 32% to 2.2 and “Tale Spin” dropped 17% to 2. 0.

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