Feb. sweep soft for talk

'Springer,' 'Judge Judy,' 'X-Files,' buck trend

Talkshows and off-network sitcoms were generally soft, but the February sweep was sweet for “Jerry Springer,” “Frasier,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Judge Judy,” “The X-Files” and a handful of other syndie skeins.

USA Networks’ “Jerry Springer” and Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” were the only talkers to stem the tide of year-to-year losses, according to national Nielsen ratings for the 4-week period overlapping the February sweep (Feb. 5-March 4).

King World’s “Oprah Winfrey” led the yak pack with a 8.3 household rating, which marked a 4% decline from her showing in the last February sweep. By contrast, “Jerry Springer’s” meteoric rise over the past six months has pushed him into second place with a 7.8, up a cool 168% from last February.

Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” came in third with a 4.9, down 8% from a year ago. Paramount’s “Montel Williams” posted a 4.8, off 4% from last year. WB’s “Jenny Jones” notched a 4.4 and a 5% year-to-year loss. BVTV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” was unchanged from last year at a 4.3. “Live” ended the sweep on a high note, thanks to a rare chatshow appearance by Microsoft chieftain Bill Gates, who stopped by to give Regis Philbin a tutorial on using a personal computer.

Yakkers down

USA Networks’ “Sally Jessy Raphael” weighed in with a 4.2, down 8% from year-ago. Columbia TriStar TV’s “Ricki Lake” got up to speed in February, easing just 2% from year-to-year with a 4.0. Paramount’s “Maury Povich” was down 21% from year-ago with a 3.4, and the soon-to-depart “Geraldo Rivera” averaged a 2.0, down 15%, in the final February book for his 11-year-old daytime talker.

In latenight, the just-canceled rookie “Keenen Ivory Wayans Show” averaged a 1.6, down 6% from its perf in the past November sweep. Col TriStar’s freshman strip “Vibe” posted a 1.5, down 12% from November.

Among the rest of the syndie freshman strips, Warner Bros.’ “The People’s Court” scored a 2.9, up 12% from its showing in November. Eyemark Entertainment’s “Martha Stewart Living” took in a 2.5, down 11% from November, while “Gayle King” was off 5% at a 2.0. Worldvision Enterprises’ “Pictionary” was on par with its November average with a 1.4.

In the off-net sitcom field, Paramount’s “Frasier” led the pack of comedies new to rerun-land this season. “Frasier” was up 6% from its November sweep average with a 5.6. Carsey-Werner’s “Grace Under Fire” burned out a little at a 3.0, down 6% from November. Warner Bros.’ “Living Single” was up 4% from November to a 2.6, while Buena Vista’s “Boy Meets World” dipped 4% to a 2.3.

Among the off-net vets, Buena Vista’s “Home Improvement” topped the list with an 8.7, marking an 18% decline from its showing last February. Col TriStar’s “Seinfeld” earned a 7.7, down 8% from last year in spite the torrent of publicity and press coverage leading up to the show’s primetime finale this May. Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” averaged a 6.4, down 10% from a year ago. Col TriStar’s “Mad About You” took in a 2.8, sliding 28% from last February.

E.T. swings

Among the access magazine strips, Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” scored its widest margin of victory over its competition in 10 years with a 7.1 rating, up 6% from year-ago. Warner Bros.’ “Extra” soared 26% over last year to a 4.4, thanks in part to an increase in the number of stations that carry the show.

King World’s “Inside Edition” plateaued at a 5.0, off 5% from year-ago. Par’s “Hard Copy” was down 14% from last year to a 3.7. KW’s “American Journal” fell 8% to a 3.0, while “Access Hollywood” was down 17% from year-to-year to a 2.5.

It was another solid ratings book for courtroom queen “Judge Judy,” which was up 123% from last year with a 4.7 average. Par’s “Real TV” climbed 15% from last year to a 3.9. King World’s gameshow stalwarts “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” were little changed and topped the syndie charts, as usual, with a 12.8 and 10.7, respectively.

CBS’ coverage of the 1998 Winter Olympics put a damper on the ratings for many of syndie weeklies, particularly those with primetime clearances.

The off-net “X-Files” led the field in its first February sweep with a 6.6. USA Networks’ “Xena: Warrior Princess” fell 18% from year-to-year to a 5.9, while compadre “Hercules” was also off 18% to a 5.5.

‘Star Trek’ earth-bound

Paramount’s veteran “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” sank 24% to a 4.8. Col TriStar’s off-net “Walker, Texas Ranger” came in at a 4.0 in its first February book. Tribune Entertainment/Atlantis Films’ “Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict” sealed its status as the top-rated new firstrun weekly, averaging a 3.8. Fellow Tribune/Atlantis newcomer “Nightman” pulled a 3.2, while rookie Jim Brolin-starrer “Pensacola: Wings of Gold” landed a 3.1, as did Buena Vista TV’s “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”

Pearson All American’s “Baywatch” plunged 22% from year-to-year to a 3.6. MGM’s “The Outer Limits” took control of TV screens to the tune of a 3.2, off 11% from year-ago.

This season’s flock of new weekly hours seems to have created a viewing bottleneck, with most shows performing under the 3 household rating threshold. The list includes: Paramount’s “Wild Things” (2.5); USA’s “Team Knight Rider” (2.2); WB’s “Police Academy” (2.0); Rysher’s “Soldier of Fortune, Inc.” (1.9); Western Intl. Syndication’s “Conan: The Adventurer” (1.6); MGM’s “Fame L.A.” (1.3); Pearson All American’s “Ghost Stories” (1.3); Polygram TV’s “Due South” (1.0); and MG/Perin’s “Mike Hammer” (0.9).

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety

Loading