Clinton cuts into day bows

Syndie gameshows, Osmonds premiere despite testimony

It was a love connection of an entirely different sort that captivated TV viewers Monday, but the telecast of President Clinton’s grand jury testimony didn’t stop the previously skedded bows of the syndie dating gameshows “Love Connection” and “Change of Heart.”

Also premiering Monday was the talker fronted by Donny and Marie Osmond, which got off to an OK start on a historic day in TV and politics that threw daytime skeds out of whack. The hit Warner Bros./NBC sitcom “Friends” made its off-net bow to predictably strong Nielsen numbers, particularly in Gotham and Los Angeles.

‘Connection’ breaks

The return, after a five-year break, of “Love Connection” earned a 1.6 household rating and 5 share in Nielsen’s 40 overnight metered markets, which cover 60% of U.S. TV households. “Love Connection” was off 27% from the lead-in average of a 2.2/6 and down 16% from the average rating (1.9/7) its station affils earned in the timeslot a year ago.

“Change of Heart,” which airs in tandem with “Love Connection” in many markets, fared better, banking a 1.8/6 in the overnight markets. “Change of Heart” boosted the average lead-in share by one point (2.0/5) and essentially held its year-ago timeslot average (1.9/7). “Love” and “Change” are cleared primarily in latenight time periods.

On the daytime talkshow front, Columbia TriStar TV Distribution’s “Donny & Marie” was pre-empted or delayed in many markets but still managed a respectable 2.2/6 in the overnight markets. That was off 12% from its average lead-in (2.5/8) but up 22% from the average year-ago benchmark (1.8/7).

Many ‘Friends’

WB’s “Friends” pulled in big numbers as promised with a special hourlong seg that featured the series’ 37-minute pilot episode, which was edited for its preem on NBC in 1994, followed by a highlight reel.

The ensemble comedy turned in the strongest off-net sitcom bow since “Home Improvement” and “Seinfeld” hit the Monday-Friday rerun scene in the fall of 1995. “Friends” scored a 5.8/10 in the overnight markets, marking a 21% hike over its lead-in (4.8/8) and a 35% boost over its year-ago timeslot average (4.3/8).

In Gotham, “Friends” landed a 7.2/12 from 7-8 p.m. on WB affil WPIX, boosting the time period perf from the previous week by more than 50%. In the same timeslot in L.A., “Friends” weighed in with a 7.1/11 for WB affil KTLA.

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