Syndie laugh riot

Comedy king, drama drops in Nielsens

Off-network comedies shone, but syndie weeklies got hammered in the first full week after the November sweep, according to Nielsen’s ratings report for the week ending Dec. 7.

Shopping trips and other holiday-related extracurricular activities probably got in the way of regular viewing appointments for popular syndie weeklies like “Xena: Warrior Princess” and the off-net “X-Files.” Both shows posted double-digit declines in household ratings from the previous week.

Among off-network sitcoms, Paramount’s “Frasier” jumped 10% over the previous week to a 5.4 house-hold rating. “Frasier,” new to syndication this season, also set a new high mark in its demographic ratings, tying with reruns of Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” for third place among all syndie strips with a 3.6 in the key demo of adults 18-49.

Another frosh offnet strip, Buena Vista TV’s “Boy Meets World,” climbed 14% to a 2.4. Carsey-Werner’s “Grace Under Fire” dipped 9% to a 3.1, while Warner Bros.’ “Living Single” was flat at a 2.4.

Buena Vista TV’s stalwart “Home Improvement” hiked 9% week-to-week to an 8.6. Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” rose 7% to a 7.9. “The Simpsons” was up 11% to a 6.1 and Col TriStar’s “Mad About You” gained 3% to a 3.6.

Also resilient in the face of the post-sweep swoon were King World’s perennial syndie chart-toppers “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” “Wheel” spun a 12% spike to a 12.2; “Jeopardy!” soared 17% to a 10.2.

In the surprisingly close contest between polar-opposite daytime talkers “Oprah Winfrey” and “Jerry Springer,” “Oprah Winfrey” regained about half of the 23% drop she took the previous week, climbing 13% to a 7.0. “Springer” lost 10% of his steam, falling from a 6.0 to a 5.4, but the unpredictable talker still topped “Oprah” in the key demos of adults 18-49 (a 3.3 vs. a 2.8) and 18-34 (a 3.9 vs. a 2.7).

Par’s “Montel Williams” took third place among talkers for the second week in a row, rising 2% to a 4.9 household rating. Universal TV’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” fell 9% to a 4.3, tying with Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell,” which dipped 4% week-to-week.

Buena Vista TV’s morning mainstay “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” charmed 8% more viewers than it did the previous week, rising to a 4.2. Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” eased 2% to a 4.2. Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake” was up 3% to a 3.6 while Par’s “Maury Povich” declined 6% to a 3.4.

“Martha Stewart Living” maintained its grip on the top spot among freshman firstrun strips with a 2.9, flat from the previous week. Warner Bros.’ “The People’s Court” dipped 4% to a 2.6. Eyemark Entertainment’s “Gayle King” also slipped 4% to a 2.2. Worldvision gameshow “Pictionary” posted a 19% falloff to a 1.3.

In latenight, Col TriStar’s “Vibe” sank 16% from a 1.9 to a 1.6. Buena Vista TV’s “The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show” was flat for the fourth straight week at a 1.7.

Access magazine strips fell into a rut this week after a month of hoopla and special promotion for the sweep. Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” led the field with a 6.2, down 6% from the previous week. King World’s “Inside Edition” was flat with a 4.4. Warner Bros.’ “Extra” declined 7% to a 4.1, while Par’s “Hard Copy” slid 5% to a 3.6. King World’s “American Journal” was flat at a 2.8; “Access Hollywood,” from NBC and Twenti-eth TV, eased 5% to a 2.1.

Reality TV’s dynamic duo, “Real TV” and “Judge Judy,” also lost a little ground. Par’s “Real TV” fell 8% to a 3.7; Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” dipped 5% to a 3.5.

Syndie weeklies bucking the downward trend included “Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict,” from Tribune Entertainment and Atlantis Films, which inched up 3% to a 3.8. Western Intl. Syndication’s “Conan: The Adventurer” had a great week, soaring 43% from a 1.4 to a 2.0.

Twentieth TV’s “The X-Files” still led the weekly list, in spite of a 16% slide to a 6.5. Universal TV’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” sank 19% to a 5.1 while companion “Hercules” fell 23% to a 4.9. Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” was flat at a 5.1.

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