Howard helps out

'Stern' debut gives CBS O&Os rating boost

He may not have knocked off NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” as promised, but Saturday’s premiere of “The Howard Stern Radio Show” surely lit a fire under the CBS O&Os.

Most dramatic was the last-to-first ratings spike “Howard Stern” delivered to KPIX, the CBS-owned station in San Francisco. KPIX won the 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. timeslot with a 4.1 household rating and 15 share, which marked a 1050% improvement over the same timeslot the previous week and a 283% hike over the timeslot average last month.

Overall, “Howard Stern” earned a 4.9/12 in 33 of Nielsen’s 40 overnight market where the syndie skein was cleared. By comparison, an “SNL — Best of Eddie Murphy” highlight reel averaged a 6.4/17 in its 90-minute slot in the overnight markets. In spite of the ribald challenge from the self-styled “king of all media,” “SNL” managed a 3% ratings gain over the previous week and a 10% increase over its year-ago number.

The most ardent Stern fans must live in the city of Brotherly Love, because CBS’ Philadelphia O&O KYW scored the highest numbers of any “Howard Stern” affil with an 8.6/21, handily beating “SNL,” which averaged a 4.6/12.

Not surprisingly, “Howard Stern” did best in the markets, like Philadelphia and Baltimore, where his syndicated radio show is carried. The lowest-rated markets for “Howard Stern,” the TV incarnation, were WB affils KCWB Kansas City, Kan. (0.8/2), and KTZZ Seattle (1.3/4).

All told, “Howard Stern” ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in its timeslot in 19 of its 33 overnight markets. The across-the-board increases over its lead-in rating indicates that “Howard Stern” was appointment TV that brought millions of viewers who wouldn’t have otherwise watched last Saturday night.

But that was to be expected on opening night — the true test of Stern’s mettle will be whether viewing levels remain steady or even grow over the next few weeks. Critics generally savaged the premiere seg as a not-much-improved rendition of the radio show telecast that already airs nightly on the E! cabler.

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