Holiday brings ho-hums to syndie city

There were no syndie fireworks for the week of the July 4th holiday, when ratings for many top strips hit new lows, according to Nielsen’s report for the week ended July 6.

In daytime, NBC’s coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament wreaked some havoc with syndie shows that week, but distributors chalked up most of the decline to the lure of backyard barbecues and other outdoor activities when school kids are on vacation and the weather is warm. The week coinciding with the Fourth of July holiday traditionally is one of the lowest-rated points in the calendar year for syndie shows.

Even Tribune Entertainment’s annual live special, “The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular,” fizzled and fell 15% from year-to-year. Airing on 139 stations covering 93% of U.S. TV households, the two-hour spec scored a 2.2 Nielsen household rating, compared with a 2.6 in 1996 and a 3.3 in ’95.

Talkshows airing in daytime and early fringe were among the strips hardest hit by the early July swoon. Perennial leader “Oprah Winfrey” fell 12% from the previous week to a new low for the year, a 6.0. Only Paramount’s “Montel Williams” (4.4) and Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” (3.6) held steady from week-to-week.

‘Rosie’ slips again

Warner Bros.’ “Rosie O’Donnell” was nudged out of the No. 2 spot among talkers for the third straight week. “Rosie” slipped 7% week-to-week to tie Warner Bros. talk stablemate “Jenny Jones” for third place with a 4.0. “Jenny Jones,” which surprised numbers-crunchers by surging past “Montel” and “Rosie” the previous week,” fell off 12% week-to-week.

The dirty dozen syndrome also hit Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake,” which fell off 12% from week-to-week to a 3.7. Universal TV’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” dipped 5% to a 3.7, while Paramount’s “Maury Povich” dropped 6% to a 3.4. U’s “Jerry Springer” was off 3% to a 2.9 and Tribune’s “Geraldo Rivera” lost 5%, leveling off at 2.1.

At the top of the syndie charts, King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” both slipped to new lows for the year, scoring an 8.9 and 7.7, respectively.

From “Entertainment Tonight” on down, all of the access magazine shows took a dive, landing in record-low or near record-low territory. Paramount’s “ET” led the field with a 4.8, trailed by King World’s “Inside Edition” with a 3.8, Par’s “Hard Copy” (3.2) and Warner Bros.’ “Extra” (3.1). Falling below the 3 million TV households mark were King World’s “American Journal” (2.6) and Twentieth TV/NBC’s “Access Hollywood” (2.1).

No ‘Home’ improvement

And from “Home Improvement” on down, all of the major off-net sitcom strips lost ground from the previous week. Buena Vista’s “Home Improvement” fell off 9% from to a 6.9. Columbia TriStar’s “Seinfeld” dipped 6% to a 6.3, Twentieth’s “The Simpsons” lost 10% (5.5) and Col TriStar’s “Mad About You” dropped 8% (3.6).

Among reality strips, only Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” and MGM’s “LAPD” held steady with the previous week with a 2.1 and 1.5, respectively. Paramount’s “Real TV” wavered 3% to score a 3.0, while Rysher Entertainment’s “Strange Universe” dropped 14% week-to-week from a 1.4 to a 1.2.

The weekly action-hours, all in reruns, didn’t generate much excitement with viewers. Universal’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” was flat from the previous week with a 5.3; her companion “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” was off 10% with a 4.4. Paramount’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” fell 21% to a 4.1, while All American Television’s “Baywatch” dropped 12% to a 3.6.

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