‘Oprah’ unbeatable in syndies

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” tied for third place among all talkshows during the four weeks overlapping its first November sweeps. But King World’s queen of talk “Oprah” kept its crown, more than doubling its closest talk competitor.

On the flip side, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “Ricki Lake,” which last year spawned an entire wave of imitators, tumbled 26% from last November’s average to a 3.4, the biggest decline of any talker except for Twentieth TV’s “Gordon Elliott.” The revamped “Gordon” plunged 29%, to a 1.5.

In a league of her own, “Oprah” averaged an 8.9 national household rating for the four-week period, which was a 5% increase over November ’95, according to Nielsen. During the most recent chart for the week ended Nov. 24, “Oprah’s” newest early fringe competitor “Rosie” hit an all-time high of 4.5.

The four-week average for “Rosie” was a 4.2, tying Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee,” which fell 11% from its year-ago sweep. “Rosie” also tied WBDTD’s veteran talker “Jenny Jones,” which lost 13% from its second-place year-ago average, amid a torrent of negative publicity about the show.

‘Montel’ slips up on ‘Jenny’

Replacing “Jenny Jones” for the No. 2 talk spot was Paramount Domestic Television’s “Montel Williams,” which rose 2% over last November to a 4.3. It was mixed news for MCA TV’s new talkshow purchases. “Sally Jessy Raphael” grew 5% from its 1995 November to a sixth-place 4.1, while “Jerry Springer” slumped 13% to a ninth-place 2.7.

The new talkers held the bottom spots. WBDTD’s “In Person With Maureen O’Boyle” averaged a 1.3, while soon-to-be MCA’s “Pat Bullard” averaged a 1.0. ACI’s “Scoop” averaged a 0.6, while MGM’s “The Bradshaw Difference,’ which goes off the air in January, averaged a 0.3.

None of the magazines showed improvement over last November. Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” led the pack at 6.4, falling 11% year-to-year. “ET” was one of only two to increase its metered-market lead-in in November, registering a 4% increase. In the fourth week of sweeps, “ET” was the only mag to grow, climbing 8%.

Twentieth TV’s new entertainment rival “Access Hollywood” averaged a 3.1, which was less than half of “ET’s” rating, and in metered markets, it underperformed its lead-in by an average of 26%. However, boosted by strong clearances on the NBC O&Os, “Access” in the nation’s top three markets averaged a 5 rating, 8 share in November, only one share point behind “ET’s” 5.6/9 on the CBS O&Os.

Taking a fall

Among the tabmags, King World’s “Inside Edition” fell 14%; Par’s “Hard Copy” fell 17%, to a 4.3, but increased its metered-market lead-in by 4%. WBDTD’s “Extra” lost 8%, to a 3.5, while King World’s “American Journal” fell 16% to a 3.1. King World boasted that “AJ” had the highest metered-market average in access timeslots, but “AJ” is only cleared in access in nine of the 35 metered markets.

Among the other access shows, King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” held the top spot on the syndie chart, with a four-week average of 12.2, down 5% from a year ago. “Jeopardy!” officially lost the second-place spot to Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement.” “Jeopardy!” averaged a 10.2, down 14%, while “Home Improvement” rose 11% from last November to a 10.7.

CTTD’s off-net “Seinfeld” grew 10% from last November to an 8.0 Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” also grew 5% from last year, to 6.9. CTTD’s newcomer “Mad About You” averaged a 4.8. The new gamers were not instant hits. CTTD’s “Dating/Newlywed” averaged a 1.8, while Tribune’s “Bzzz!” was at 1.7. Rysher’s new latenight strip “Strange Universe” averaged a 1.2.

Four gainers

Only four of the season’s new strips increased their metered-market lead-ins in November. Par’s “Real TV” (2.8) grew 4% from its metered-market lead-in, Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” (1.6) grew 5%. WBDTD’s two off-net sitcoms “Martin” (3.5) and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” (2.2) each grew 2% from their metered-market lead-ins.

Among the weeklies, Par’s ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” took the top spot at 6.6, off 10% from last year. MCA TV’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” (5.9) also fell 5%, but ‘Xena: Warrior Princess” (5.7) was up 6%, and it hit an all-time high of 6.3 in the latest week. All American’s “Sinbad” (3.1) led the new weeklies, trailed by Rysher’s “FX …The Series” (3.0) and MTM’s “The Cape” (2.7).

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