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‘Xena,’ ‘Rosie’ and ‘ET’ top mixed syndie sweeps

The top off-net sitcoms and firstruns “Xena,” “Rosie O’Donnell” and “Entertainment Tonight” are among the syndie shows that shined most brightly during the four weeks ending March 2, which overlap the February sweeps period.Despite new competition from Twentieth TV’s “Access Hollywood,” Paramount Domestic TV’s “Entertainment Tonight” was the only magazine to buck the recent ratings downtrend for the genre. “ET” averaged a 6.8 in Nielsen’s national ratings over the four-week period, which was exactly even with last February’s perform-ance.All other mags declined from one year ago, most by double-digit percentages. King World’s “Inside Edition,” which has a weaker lineup this year, averaged a 5.2. That rating is down 16% from its year-ago performance. Par’s “Hard Copy” averaged a 4.3, off 14% from its year-ago four-week average. Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribu-tion’s “Extra” dropped 5% from last year’s average to a 3.5, and King World’s”American Journal” averaged a 3.3, down 18% from last year’s average.Par’s newcomer “Real TV” aver

aged a 3.4 over the four weeks, the highest of the fall’s frosh class of strips, and 21% better than its performance during the four weeks overlapping the November sweeps. In the most recent week ending March 2, “Real TV” matched its season high of 3.6 and, for the first time yet, tied with “Access Hollywood” for the top spot among the fall’s new strips season-to-date.

‘Judy’ judged highly

Also turning in a good performance was Worldvision’s frosh court strip “Judge Judy,” which averaged a 2.1, up 31% over November. In the most recent week, “Judge Judy” tied its season high of 2.2 and remained the only new firstrun strip to outperform its metered-market lead-in, by 10%. Warner Bros.’ “In Person With Maureen O’Boyle” finished with a 1.7 average, up 31% over November; and Rysher’s “Strange Universe” averaged 1.3, up 8% from November.

Despite higher levels of households using TVs, “Access Hollywood” did not improve its performance from the four weeks overlapping the November sweeps. “Access” averaged a 3.0 in February, off 3% from its November 1996 average.

Two new off-net sitcoms also fell off from their four-week November averages. Warner Bros.’ “Martin” averaged a 3.2 in February, a dip of 9% from November, and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” averaged a 2.1, down 5%.

On the flip side, the top four off-net sitcoms soared. Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement” climbed 6% from last year to a 10.6 average. CTTD’s “Seinfeld” added 5% to 8.4, and Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” grew 9% to 7.1. CTTD’s newcomer “Mad About You” averaged a 5.0, which was up 4% from its November 1996 performance. The rest of the top 10 off-net sitcoms dropped off at least 24% from last year.

King World’s gameshow “Wheel of Fortune” topped the syndie chart with a 12.7 average, despite a 3% drop from last February. Companion “Jeopardy!” dipped 5% from last year to a 10.5 average. King World’s “Oprah” led the talk pack too, as always. “Oprah” averaged an 8.6, down 3% from its year-ago pace.

Placing a strong second among the talkshows is Warner Bros. newcomer “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” which av-eraged a 5.3, up 26% from its November 1996 average. “Rosie” was by far the highest-rated first-year firstrun strip. Universal Domestic TV’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” also had an excellent February. “Sally” averaged a 4.6, up 12% from last year. It tied Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones,” which also increased 2% from one year ago.

‘Live’ less lively

Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” fell 10% from last year to 4.3, tying Par’s “Maury Povich,” which was flat. CTTD’s “Ricki Lake” was also even with its year-ago at 4.1. Universal’s “Jerry Springer” tumbled 9% to 2.9. Tribune’s “Geraldo” fell 12% from last year to 2.3, but in the latest week tied its season high of 2.4 after a 20% weekly increase.

Universal’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” had its best sweeps ever, topping all weeklies with a 7.2 and improving its year-ago average by 29%. Companion weekly “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” placed second with a 6.7, up 5%; while Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” was third at 6.3, down 9% from last year. All American’s “Baywatch” sank 13% to 4.6, but its “Sinbad” topped the crop of new weeklies, averaging a 3.1. Rysher’s “FX … The Series” and Par’s “Viper” were close behind at 3.0.

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