NBA Finals cause most firstrun strips to dip

The Chicago Bulls’ “drive for five” in the NBA Finals helped drive down national ratings for most firstrun access strips in the week ending June 8.

Twentieth Television’s “Access Hollywood” sank to a new low, thanks in part to preemptions and delays on the NBC O&Os for Game 2 (June 4) and Game 3 (June 6) of the NBA championships. “Access Hollywood,” a joint venture of Fox and NBC, also has been hit with downgrades on some of the Fox O&Os that carry the show.

‘Access’ ties with ‘Judy’

With a 2.3 household rating, “Access Hollywood” tied for the first time this season with fellow freshman strip “Judge Judy,” a show with mostly daytime clearances on weaker independent stations. In spite of a 9% drop from the previous week, Paramount’s “Real TV” ranked as the top freshman firstrun strip with a 3.2 .

Hoops hoopla also put a dent in “Access Hollywood” access competitors in West Coast markets that cut into the national number. Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” and “Hard Copy” dropped 7% to a 5.3 and 3.8, respectively. King World’s “Jeopardy!” hit a season low of 8.4, down 3% from the previous week and 5% from the same week last year. “Wheel of Fortune” fell 3% from the previous week but still topped the syndie chart with a 10.6.

King World’s newsmagazine “American Journal” was down 7% from the previous week with a 2.7; its sister show, “Inside Edition,” was flat with a 4.1.

Sitcoms fare better

Off-network sitcoms held up better against the drawing power of Michael Jordan and crew. Twentieth’s “The Simpsons” climbed 7% over the previous week with a 6.1, which also marked a 30% spike over its performance last year. Buena Vista’s “Home Improvement” lost just 1% over the previous week with an 8.1, which marked a 17% increase in year-ago comparisons. Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” dipped 6% over the previous week to a 6.8.

Talkshows sank firmly into the summer doldrums in the second full week following the May sweep, when many yakkers aired reruns for at least part of the week.

King World’s “Oprah Winfrey” was down for the third straight week, hitting a season low of 6.8. Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” stayed on par with the previous week with a 4.7, while WB’s “Jenny Jones” dropped 5% to a 3.9. Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” dipped 3% to a 3.9.

Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” slid 14% with a full week of reruns to a 3.8. Par’s “Maury Povich” eased off 6% from the previous week to a 3.4. Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake” fell 11% to a 3.3. Universal’s “Jerry Springer” dropped 6% to a 2.9 while Tribune’s “Geraldo Rivera” held steady with the previous week with a 2.1.

There was some movement among the weekly syndie hours, although all were in reruns. Universal’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” topped its spinoff show, “Xena: Warrior Princess,” for the first time since the week ending March 23. “Hercules” grew 10% week-to-week to a 5.6, while “Xena” dropped 4% to a 5.4.

MGM’s “The Outer Limits” pulled ahead of All American Television’s “Baywatch” for the first time since the week ending Feb. 2. “Baywatch” notched its lowest rating of the season (3.1), while “Outer Limits” climbed 6% to a 3.6.

Warner Bros.’ “Babylon 5″ scored a 3% week-to-week gain with a 3.0, which marked a 20% hike in year-ago comparisons. Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” dropped 14% from the previous week to a 4.2.

Rysher Entertainment’s “FX: The Series” led the pack of freshman action hours for the fourth straight week with a 2.7, followed by Par’s “Viper” (2.6), All American’s “Adventures of Sinbad” and MGM’s “Poltergeist: The Legacy,” both of which earned a 2.1.

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