‘ET’ makes syndie gains; ‘Hercules’ finishes strong

Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” garnered its best numbers yet under new exec producer Linda Bell Blue during t he week ended Aug. 20.

In week-to-week comparisons, the syndicated newsmag gained 3% to a 6.4 household rating in the Nielsen national barter rankings. Although that figure is still 16% below the year-ago average, when newsmag ratings were inflated in the aftermath of OJ. Simpson’s arrest, it represented the show’s best numbers since the week of May 1.

‘Hard’ growth

The Par tabmag “Hard Copy” was the only other program in the genre to show any growth during the week, climbing 6% to 5.6 and inching ahead of King World’s “Inside Edition,” which slipped 2% to 5.3. “Copy” is running 18% behind last year, while “Edition” is down 10%.

Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair,” gearing up for fall with a major rebuilding effort and ad campaign, faded 2% to 4.2 and paced 19% behind last year’s 5.2.

Warner Bros.’ “Extra – The Entertainment Magazine,” which may be looking at double runs on Tribune or Chris-Craft stations to compensate for losing access berths on the NBC O& O’s in fall 1996, dipped 3% to 3.8. KW’s “American Journal” remained in last place among the magazines for a second week, down 3% to 3.7.

Talkers mixed

Talkshows were mixed, with eight posting improvements, seven showing decreases and two remaining flat with the previous week.

At the top of the talk list, KW’s “Oprah Winfrey” fell 6% to 6.6, its lowest number in weeks. The show is down 18% from its 8.0 a year ago.

Not far behind, Columbia TriStar’s double-run talker “Ricki Lake” – looking at a slew of imitators entering syndication next month – gained 2% to 5.1 and remained even with its year-ago mark.

Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” slipped to third place behind “Lake” with a 4% retreat to 4.8, which put it 55% ahead of last year’s 3.1 thanks to increased double runs.

Weeklies were generally lower, but MCA TV’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” wrapped up the season in first place for the week despite a 4% loss to 5.3. I t topped Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (off 8% to 4.9 and 18% year-to-year) and All American’s “Baywatch” (dipping 8% to 4.8 and a whopping 27% from last year’s 6.6 rating).

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