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Oprah still queen

Springer gains big but Winfrey wins season

Despite a full-tilt charge up the Nielsen syndie chart by Jerry Springer, Oprah Winfrey retained the talk-show crown for the September-to-September 1997-98 syndie season.

King World Prods.’ “The Oprah Winfrey Show” averaged a 6.9 national Nielsen household rating for the 52-week period spanning the week of Sept. 1, 1997, through the week of Aug. 31. Nielsen data for the final week of the period was released Thursday.

Studios USA’s red-hot “Jerry Springer Show” was right behind in the No. 2 slot with a 6.5 household rating. “Springer,” which has been the nation’s top-rated talker for the past 25 weeks, did top “Oprah” on the adults 18-49 demographic front, with Springer pulling in a 3.8 in the key demo to Winfrey’s 3.0.

“Springer” also was the only syndie talker to post year-to-year growth. Compared to the same 52-week period of the 1996-97 season, Winfrey’s household numbers were down 12% from a 7.8, while Springer surged 124% from a 2.9 in 1996-97.

In a tie for third place, Paramount’s “Montel Williams” pulled alongside Warner Bros.’ “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” each averaging a 4.2 household number for the season. Compared to 1996-97, Williams was off 4% and O’Donnell was down 7%.

Studios USA’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” weighed in with a 4.0 season household average, down just 2% from the previous season. Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” finished out the 1997-98 frame down 5% from 1996-97 to a 3.9.

Buena Vista TV’s “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” banked a 3.5 household average, down 15% from 1996-97. Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake” slipped 7% from the past season to a 3.4. “Maury Povich,” in his final lame-duck season with Par, earned a 3.0, down 21% from 1996-97. Povich has relaunched his talker this month under a new deal with Studios USA.

Elsewhere in syndication, Worldvision’s courtshow queen “Judge Judy” finished out its sophomore season with a 4.3 household average, making a huge gain over its frosh year average. The first-year verdict on WB’s revival of “The People’s Court” was a 2.6, while fellow freshman “Martha Stewart Living” ended up with a 2.4.

Among access magazines, ratings race was little changed from the previous season. Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” reigned supreme with a 5.8 household average. King World’s “Inside Edition” held onto the No. 2 spot with a 4.2, followed closely by WB’s “Extra” with a 4.1. Par’s “Hard Copy” earned a 3.2 and NBC/Twentieth TV’s “Access Hollywood” came in at a 2.3.

As for syndie weeklies, Twentieth TV’s off-net “X-Files” towered over the competish with a 6.8 household average. Studios USA’s firstrun “Xena: Warrior Princess” lassoed a 5.1, followed by her stablemate “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” with a 4.8. Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” which is heading into its final season later this month, closed out season six with a 4.2.

Col TriStar’s off-net “Walker, Texas Ranger” kicked up a 4.2, while Pearson Television’s “Baywatch” rode the tide to a 3.5. Of the season’s new firstrun dramas, Tribune Entertainment/Atlantis Films’ sci-fi actioner “Earth: Final Conflict” was at the top of the heap with a 3.4 season household average.

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