Syndie magazines rally

While the syndicated magazine genre has taken quite a beating this year, most mags, especially those fo-cused on entertainment, have begun a quiet recovery over the past few weeks.

Boosted by winter weather and interest in the Cosby murder and extortion cases, all but one magazine hit a new season high for the second straight week in the latest Nielsen chart for the period ending Jan. 19. Over the past three weeks, every magazine is up by double-digit percentages, and in the latest outing, a couple of mags even held steady year-to-year.

Paramount Domestic Television’s “Entertainment Tonight” led the field by the widest margin this season after surging 9% to a 7.6, its highest number in year. “ET” tied its rating for the same period last year, which is surpris-ing given new competition and the general decline in ratings for most of syndication and the mag genre in particu-lar.

“ET” also tied “Wheel of Fortune” as the top firstrun strip in adults 18-49 for the first time this season. Over the past three weeks, “ET” has grown 43%. “ET” isn’t the only entertainment magazine to have a great week, though. Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s “Extra” not only gained 5% for the week to a 4.0, but was also 5% ahead of its year-ago mark. Over the past three weeks, “Extra” has increased 25%.

Newcomer “Access Hollywood” remained at its season high of 3.4 for a second straight week, while showing a 21% increase over the past three weeks.

Tabmags mixed

The tabmags haven’t fared quite as well, but some have still shown a bit of spunk. King World’s “Inside Edition” was the only tabmag not to hit a season high, losing 2% from last week’s season high to a 5.5. It was also down 15% year-to-year, although the ratings have perked up 17% over the past three weeks.

King World’s other mag “American Journal” (3.8) grew 3% after a 23% increase the week before to another season high. “Journal” is down a mere 3% year-to-year. Par’s “Hard Copy” had the biggest weekly increase of 11% to its highest number in 10 months, a 4.9. Despite growing 32% over the past three weeks, “Hard Copy” is off 14% year-to-year.

Newcomer “Real TV” fell 3% from its season high to a 3.5, but remained the highest-rated new first-run strip to debut this fall for the seventh straight week. Of the new shows in the other genres, Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” tied its season high after a 16% gain to 2.2. Columbia TriStar TV Distribution’s “Dating/Newlywed Hour” fell 10% to a 1.8. Warner Bros.’ “Maureen O’Boyle” (1.7), Tribune’s “Bzzz!” (1.6) and Rysher’s “Strange Universe” (1.2) were all flat.

Most talkers tumble

Among the talkshows, only three showed gains this week. Trib’s “Geraldo” had the biggest weekly boost, soaring 20% to a season high of 2.4 two weeks after being upgraded in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. In metered markets, it jumped 29% from lead-in, while year-to-year it was off just 4% with a much weaker line-up.

Other talkshows to improve were Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee,” which rose 4% to 4.8 and fell 2% from last year; and Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones,” which inched up 2% to a 4.2, also falling 7% from last year.

King World’s “Oprah” led the talkers, despite falling 4% to an 8.7. Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” was second, despite tumbling 10% from its highest ever to a 5.6. The biggest weekly drops of 11% came from Par’s “Montel Williams” (4.7) and Twentieth TV’s “Gordon Elliott” (1.7). The worst year-to-year erosion of 23% came from CTTD’s “Ricki Lake,” which was flat for the week at 4.0.

Sitcoms steady

The off-net sitcoms were mostly unchanged, except for Carsey-Werner’s “Roseanne,” which climbed 11% to a season high of 3.9. The sitcom is still down 34% from last year. Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” hit its highest rating ever for the second straight week, growing 3% to a 7.3, which is 16% ahead of its year-ago mark. Buena Vista’s “Home Improvement” led the pack as usual after a 1% drop to 10.9. That’s 5% over last year. CTTD’s “Seinfeld” upticked 1% to 8.8, which was also 5% ahead of its year-ago rating.

Of the firstrun weeklies, MGM’s “Outer Limits” shot up 30% to a 4.3, tying its season high and matching its year-ago number in a week when all the other top weeklies faced significant year-to-year erosion.

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