Most mags lose altitude in May sweeps

Despite earning sweeps wins on the NBC-owned stations in both Los Angeles and New York, Twentieth TV’s magazine strip “Access Hollywood” took it on the chin in Nielsen ratings averages during the four-week period ending May 18 that approximated the May sweeps window.

“Access” matched its debut week rating of 2.7 for the four weeks but was down from its season average of 3.0. More importantly, the show underperformed its lead-in in the major city metered markets by an average 24%. It also hit a 2.5 for the week ending May 18, its lowest of the season.

However, Par TV’s “Entertainment Tonight,” with a 5.8, was also down — slipping 2% from last season’s 5.9 and declining from its 6.2 season average. Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ “Extra,” with a 3.4, was unchanged year-to-year in the four-week averages.

Then again, “Access,” “E.T.” and “Extra” were merely on the cutting edge of a magazine show downtrend. King World’s “Inside Edition” dropped 20% from its 5.5 of a year ago down to 4.4. Paramount’s “Hard Copy” plunged 9% down to a 4.3 average. And “American Journal” lost 12% year-to-year in averaging a 3.0.

Elsewhere in access, Buena Vista’s “Home Improvement” managed to show some improvement, averaging an 8.6 for the four-week period, up 10% from last May despite tallying a season-low 8.3 for the week of May 12.

Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” (7.4) found a modest 6% uptick from a year ago, while Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons,” at 6.3, surged 19% from its year-ago average (though down from its 6.5 for the season to date). Newcomer “Mad About You” checked in with a 4.3.

On the other side of the off-net coin, “Married … With Children” skidded 21% year-to-year with a 3.1 average. And despite the hoopla created by the final episode of “Roseanne” on ABC, the off-net show plummeted 27% to a 3.2 after garnering a 4.4 average last May.

The top of the chart found both King World gameshows, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” dropping slightly over a year ago — “Wheel” 2% and “Jeopardy! 3%.

Among the yak pack, King World’s “Oprah Winfrey” re-established her dominance with a mighty 8.0, up 3% from last year’s 7.8. And while Warner Bros. TV’s “Rosie O’Donnell” landed second, it was a very distant second at 4.6 for the four-week period.

The rest of the chatters were tightly bunched. Paramount Domestic TV’s “Montel Williams” and Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” both rose 10% to tie at 4.3, while Warner Bros. TV’s “Jenny Jones” inched down 2% to 4.1. Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” dropped 7% to 4.0. Paramount’s “Maury Povich” gained 5% to 3.9, while “Ricki Lake” faded 10% to 3.5.

Absorbing the biggest losses, however, were “Geraldo” (down 17% to 2.0), “Gordon Elliott” (diving 24% to 1.3) and “Rolonda” (plunging 36% to 0.9). Both “Gordon” and “Rolonda” have already been canceled.

Weeklies, meanwhile, were topped by Universal TV’s ever-potent “Xena: Warrior Princess,” which rocketed 28% to 6.0, while fellow U strongbody “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” gained 6% to 5.3 to nose out Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (5.2, a dip of 10%).

Rysher’s “FX … The Series” again paced new weeklies with a 2.8 over the four weeks.

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