Syndicated Hours Shine Thanks To Simpson Trial, Clinton Talk

With daytime syndicated shows pulverized by O.J. Simpson trial preemptions and access entrants hurt by the State of the Union address, the action shifted to hours during the week ended Jan. 29.

All American TV’s “Baywatch” eclipsed Paramount’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” to rank as the top-rated firstrun hour series in the Nielsen national barter rankings. It was the first time since the week ended Jan. 8 that “Baywatch” surpassed the “Trek” spinoff.

“Baywatch” soared 16% to 7.8 – the biggest gain of any weekly – while “Deep Space” tumbled 11% to 7.1.

Ranking third in the hour column was the premiere of MCA TV’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” which flexed a 5.6.

The new weekly series, one of two plucked out of last year’s “Universal Action Pack” by the syndicator, overpowered such entrenched series as Cannell’s “Renegade” (4.8), Warner Bros.’ “Babylon 5” and “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” (4.6) and Rysher’s “Highlander” (4.2).

The second new MCA hour, “Vanishing Son,” debuted with a 4.2, ahead of the new WB “Prime Time Entertainment Network” action hour “Pointman” (3.7) and Rysher’s frosh series “Lonesome Dove” (3.3).

Meanwhile, only a handful of strips relying on three-and four-day averages were able to escape the widespread preemptions, CBS and ABC afternoon specials and the president’s address.

Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” (6.7) came within striking distance of Carsey-Werner’s top-rated “Roseanne” (6.9) – surpassing the female-skewing off-net sitcom in the key male demos – and scored a personal best for the third consecutive week with a 3% hike.

WB’s “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” also hit a record 6.1 with a 2% rise, tying “The Simpsons” in younger women and out in front by a notch in older female demos.

Columbia TriStar’s “Married … With Children” (6.2) continued to outdistance the other sitcoms in the key male demos.

Most of the struggling freshmen strips were either flat or slid during the week, illustrating the difficulties they could have in the February book if Simpson preemptions continue.

Veteran daytime, early fringe and access talk and magazine series were not exempt from the preemption-related declines, particularly those cleared heavily on network affiliates.

The two talkers showing the most growth during the week, WB’s “Jenny Jones” (up 9% to 5.0) and Par’s “Montel Williams” (up 13% to 4.3), appear on many independent TV stations.