Johnson talker weak; declawed 'Springer' drops

“The Magic Hour” pulled a lackluster 1.8 national Nielsen household rating average in its first week on the air, according to Nielsen’s latest syndie ratings report for the week ended June 14.

In fairness, “Magic,” fronted by NBA great Earvin (Magic) Johnson, faced stiff competition from pro sports in its first week on the air, which coincided with NBC’s coverage of the NBA championships and Fox’s June 9 coverage of the Stanley Cup finals. Twentieth TV’s “Magic” is carried by numerous Fox affils nationwide, and overruns of the June 9 hockey game delayed the start of the fledgling talk-variety hour by more than one hour in 13 major East Coast markets.

“Magic’s” first-week average was in line with the national bow last summer of the now-canceled syndie latenighters “Vibe” (1.6) and “The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show” (2.0), neither of which ever posted the ratings growth necessary for survival in latenight.

“Magic” scored highest in its first week with teenage boys, a natural constituency for the basketball icon. According to Nielsen’s demographic breakdown, “Magic” earned a 1.4 rating with boys 12-17. Its adult demo ratings with men and women 18-34 and 18-49 hovered around the 1.0 mark.

The other syndie premiere falling in the week of June 8 also came from the Twentieth TV. “Forgive or Forget,” a talk-reality strip hosted by Mother Love, debuted with a low 1.2 household average.

The other syndie biz development to look for in this report was the dawn of the fight-free “Jerry Springer Show.” Studios USA brass in April vowed to eliminate violence from the fast-rising talkshow as of June 8 in the face of a firestorm of criticism from many quarters.

Coincidentally or not, “Springer” hit its lowest Nielsen mark since January in the week the nonviolence pledge took effect. Show fell 7% from the previous week to a 6.7, which was still strong enough to lead the daytime yak pack, many of which were in reruns for all or part of the week.

King World’s “Oprah Winfrey” took the silver medal with a 6.3, off 2% from the previous week. Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” was unchanged from the previous week at a 3.9. USA’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” eased 3% to a 3.8, tying for fourth place with WB’s “Jenny Jones,” which rose 6% from week-to-week. Paramount’s “Montel Williams” was right behind with a 3.7, down 5%.

Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake” rose 3% to a 3.6, while “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” dropped 3% to a 3.5. “Maury Povich,” in his waning days with Par before moving to a new deal this fall with Studios USA, was up 7% from the previous week to a 3.0.

Access magazines and other reality fare were little changed from the previous week. In the off-net sitcom arena, Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement” climbed 5% to a 6.7, while Col TriStar’s “Seinfeld” dipped 2% to a 5.8, its lowest number since September.

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