Off-net Fare Only Syndie Highlight

Preemptions brought about by afterschool specials and Los Angeles storm coverage rained down on syndicated programs, according to Nielsen syndication rankings for the Jan. 9-15 week, with the few highlights limited to off-network fare.

That included Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons,” which achieved best-ever ratings and for the first time equaled “Married… With Children,” despite a clearance handicap of 83% U.S. coverage vs. 92% for the long-running Columbia series. The animated hit remains the highest-rated new strip in syndication, followed by another off-network property, Warner Bros.’ “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

MCA’s “Coach” gained, improving by 9% over the previous week to a best-yet 4.9 rating.

The struggling freshman class of firstrun series, meanwhile, generally did little to help their cause in the only national syndication numbers to be released during the current N ATPE confab in Vegas.

Warner Bros.’ “Extra” (4.3) topped that roster and hopes to make further headway with the acquisition of former “A Current Affair” anchor Maureen O’Boyle. “The Gordon Elliott Show” (2.9) was the only other newcomer to make much of a ripple.

Otherwise, Buena Vista’s “Judge for Yourself (1.5), Columbia’s “The Newz” (1.5), MCA’s “Last Call” (1.1), Paramount’s “Jon Stewart” (1.0), and Group W’s “Jones & Jury” (1.3) and “Marilu” (1.1) were all flat or down vs. the prior week.

Col’s “Ricki Lake” remained hot, however, and rebounded from the previous week to move back ahead of “Jenny Jones” (5.0), which dropped 11% off its best-ever ratings performance.

Talkers were generally down, in fact, from recent weeks, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” despite its host’s latest personal revelation, this one dealing with past drug use. Paramount’s “The Maury Povich Show” (4.5) and “Montel Williams” (4.4), Multimedia’s “Donahue” (3.7) and KW’s “Rolonda” (1.8) were all down week-to-week, as well, heading into NATPE.

Similarly, King World’s “Inside Edition” regained its edge over Paramount’s “Hard Copy,” although both were off marginally compared to the prior week.

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