Syndie talker posts big growth from debut

By the Nielsen yardstick, nearly 1.07 million TV households have climbed on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” bandwagon since Warner Bros.’ hit talk-variety hour premiered last June.

The release of Nielsen’s national syndication ratings report for the week ending June 15 gives numbers-crunchers the first chance to track the year-to-year growth of “Rosie O’Donnell” on a national basis. And those numbers indicate a bright future for the show, which is credited for reviving the talk-variety format for such upcoming daytime contenders as Roseanne and Howie Mandel.

“Rosie O’Donnell’s” average household rating climbed 34% between its premiere week of June 10, 1996, and the week of June 9. In week one last year, “Rosie” scored a 3.2, compared with a 4.3 in the most recent ratings report. The show is expected to pick up more steam this fall, when “Rosie” moves into more lucrative early-fringe timeslots in markets covering about 26% of the country.

Weak week

In spite of all the good year-to-year news, “Rosie O’Donnell” didn’t buck the trend of week-to-week drops among talkshows, thanks in part to preemptions and competition from the NBC’s live coverage of the U.S. Open. “Rosie’s” 4.3 household average was off 9% from the previous week’s 4.7.

Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” lost 8% from the previous week, which still marked a 24% spike over the same week last year. Buena Vista Television’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” didn’t hold up well in its second straight week of reruns, losing 11% from the previous week and 19% year-to-year.

With a 3.9 household average, Paramount’s “Montel Williams” was off 7% in both weekly and yearly comparisons. Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” dropped 3% week-to-week to a 3.8; Universal’s “Jerry Springer” eased 3% from the previous week to a 2.8.

King World’s “Oprah Winfrey” stemmed three straight weeks of decline by growing 9% to a 7.4, which marked a 7% hike over the same week last year. Par’s “Maury Povich” was up 12% week-to-week with a 3.8. Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake” climbed 6% to a 3.5, but was still off 10% from last year.

In access timeslots, gameshows, magazines and off-network sitcoms were hard hit in West Coast markets by stiff competition and pre-emptions (for shows on NBC affils) from the last two games of the NBA championships on June 11 and June 13.

King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” fell to new lows for the season but still topped the syndie charts with a 10.5 and 8.2, respectively. King World’s tabmags “Inside Edition” (3.7) and “American Journal” (2.5) also hit season lows, along with Paramount’s “Hard Copy” (3.4).

Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” led the magazine field, as usual, with a 5.2, a showing on par with weekly and yearly comparisons. Warner Bros.’ “Extra” was up 13% year-to-year with a 3.4, while Twentieth Television/NBC’s freshman mag “Access Hollywood” was flat with a 2.3.

In the off-net arena, “Home Improvement” dropped a full point week-to-week from an 8.1 to a 7. Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” fell 3% week-to-week from a 6.8 to a 6.6. Twentieth’s “The Simpsons” fell 8% to a 5.6 but was up 17% from year-ago.

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