‘Ricki’ can’t halt free-fall

:”Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” dominated in households, as usual, and “The Oprah Winfrey Show” held off the challenge of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” to control the key female demographics in the Nielsen national syndication ratings for November sweeps (Oct. 31-Nov. 27).

But the real story is perhaps the continuing free-fall of “The Ricki Lake Show” amid heavy competition for the young adult audience.

Two years ago, Lake’s show was as hot as “Oprah” was cold, as hip as Winfrey was tired. Lake still had only half the household numbers of Winfrey in November ’94 (10.4 to 5.2), but it was in second place and gaining momentum.

Now, Winfrey remains on top in households with a 9.6 (up 7% year-to-year), while Lake has dipped to 2.9 in homes overall, less than a third of the total “Oprah” audience. And Winfrey, meanwhile, remained the top-rated syndie talkshow for the 41st consecutive sweeps period.

“Rosie O’Donnell” took second in homes among talk shows in November with a 5.1, nosing out “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” (5.0), “Sally Jessy Raphael” (4.1), “The Maury Povich Show” and “Montel Williams” (3.8), “Jerry Springer” (3.0), “Lake,” (2.9) and “Jenny Jones” (2.8).

Among magazines, Paramount’s “Hard Copy” took first place among adults 18-34 and 18-49, while King World’s “Inside Edition” was tops with adults 25-54.

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