SYNDIES STILL SLIDING

Offnet 'Improvement,' 'Oprah' hit new lows

Syndication ratings continued to drift lower the week ending April 20, the last week before the start of the May sweeps period.

The No. 1 off-net sitcom, the top talker and the season’s new relationship gameshow block all hit new season lows. King World’s. “Oprah” held the top talk spot, but slipped for the fifth straight week, this time 1% to 6.9. That’s 3% lower than its year-ago mark; the show’s total five-week loss is 18%.

Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement” also fell 2% to a season low of 8.6, still up 8% over last year. Columbia TriStar TV’s frosh “The Dating/Newlywed Hour” sank 7% to 1.3 after losing 20% of its metered-market lead-in.

While those were the only three strips to carve out new bottoms, Warner Bros.’ talker “Jenny Jones” also had a rough week. The show continued its 29% five-week slide, falling 5% for the latest week to 3.5. “Jenny Jones” is also off 8% from the same week last year.

Warner Bros.’ other talker, “Rosie O’Donnell,” gained 2% to 4.9 and placed second behind “Oprah.” Paramount’s “Montel Williams” placed third after falling 4% to 4.3, which was up 10% from last year.

Among mags, Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” led the field, despite a loss of 2% to 5.6, off 3% from last year. “ET” was the only mag to increase it metered-market lead-in, by a full 15%. King World’s “Inside Edition” matched its season low of 4.4 after a 2% drop. Warner Bros.’ “Extra” was the only mag to rise, creeping up 3% to 3.4, unchanged from last year.

In off-net action, Columbia’s “Seinfeld” lost 5% to 7.3, but was also up 4% over last year. Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” gained 2% to 6.4 and rose a full 23% over its year-ago level.

King World’s steady access gameshows eroded a bit. “Wheel of Fortune” dropped 4% to 11.0, off 5% from last year. “Jeopardy” was flat at 9.0 and down 8% from last year.

Par’s “Real TV” led new strips, despite dipping 3% to 3.1. Twentieth TV’s “Access Hollywood” added 4% to reach 2.8. Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” was flat at 2.1. Warner Bros. “In Person With Maureen O’Boyle” grew 15% to 1.5. Tribune’s “Bzzz!” was flat at 1.2, tying Rysher’s “Strange Universe,” which lost 8%.

Among the weeklies, Universal’s “Xena” rose 7% for the week and 33% from last year to a first-place 6.0. Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” climbed 2% to a second-place 5.3. U’s “Hercules” took an 8% leap to 4.9 and placed third for the first time since mid-January.

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