Courtshows rule ratings sweeps month

'Xena' leads action charge

Syndicators had their day in court and won, according to Nielsen, as gavelers were among the few to surge in a tough sweeps period that saw only eight out of 42 strips find growth.

For the four-week period overlapping the Nov. 4-Dec. 1 sweeps — the results of which determine local TV advertising rates — left judges Judy, Brown and Ephriam with more than favorable rulings.

Paramount’s “Judge Judy” once again easily led the pack, pinning down a 7.6 household and 4.1 adult demo rating for the new queen of daytime, marking a rise of 13% for the show.

Second place in the genre went to Paramount’s “Judge Joe Brown” with a red-hot 48% surge compared with last year’s numbers for the sophomore. Twentieth’s “Divorce Court,” with Mablean Ephriam, took control as the top rookie this year, bowing in its first sweep with a 3.3.

But not all was golden in gavel-land. with other veterans — including Warner Bros.’ “People’s Court” and Paramount’s “Judge Mills Lane” — declining compared with ’98 figures, with slides of 4% and 18% respectively. Warner’s freshman “Judge Greg Mathis” opened with a 2.1 to round out the pack.

‘Xena’ victorious

Among the established firstrun action hours, “Xena: Warrior Princess” slashed her way to the front of the pack despite a dip of 20% with a 3.6 household rating and 2.3 adult demo. MGM’s “Stargate: SG1” (3.3), Studios USA’s “Journeys of Hercules” (3.2), Pearson’s “Baywatch Hawaii” (2.9) and Columbia TriStar’s “VIP’ (2.9) rounded out the top five.

Among rookies, Tribune/Alliance Atlantis’ “Beastmaster” ruled supreme, handily offing competitors with a 2.8 debut. Second place among firstrun weeklies went to Paramount’s “Relic Hunter” and Buena Vista’s “Your Big Break” at a 2.1.

‘Friends’ indeed

Warner Bros. continued to ride high in the Monday-Friday off-net arena with the prolific run of “Friends,” which ruled its genre. The off-NBC sitcom pushed past its former Thursday night skedmate and No. 2 off-net series “Seinfeld” to land a 6.6 household rating, a 1% dip, and a 5.1 adult demo average in the sweep. Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” was right behind at a 6.2 while Paramount’s “Frasier” finished third with a 5.3.

Top freshman honors in this class went to Warner Bros.’ “The Drew Carey Show,” which guzzled up a 4.1 mark. Carsey-Werner’s “3rd Rock From the Sun” landed at a 3.4.

Among the daytime yak pack, what was once an Oprah Winfrey-vs.-Jerry Springer slugfest finally ended with talk diva Oprah handily taking Jerry in both households (6.5 vs. 4.6) and the 18-49 demo (4.1 vs. 2.8). Both shows showed erosion however, with “Oprah” off 7% and “Springer” off 34%. Warner’s “Rosie O’Donnell” (3.6), Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee” (3.5) and Studios USA’s “Maury” (3.5) rounded out the top five with only Maury showing growth vs. last year.

Rookie yakkers found Paramount’s “Leeza” leading the pack with a 1.3, followed by Telepictures’ “Queen Latifah” at a 1.2, with Eyemark’s “Dr. Joy Browne” and King World’s “The Martin Short Show” tied at a 1.1.

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