‘Friends,’ ‘Seinfeld’ fall to series lows

NBA finals dunk sitcoms with competition, preemption

The two reigning off-network sitcom champs, “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” both fell to series lows during the week ending June 11.

“Friends” still held the top spot among off-net sitcoms in syndication by a tenth of a ratings point over “Frasier,” which eclipsed “Seinfeld” for the first time. “Friends,” in its second season, moved down 4% from the previous week to 5.1, while “Frasier” improved by 4% to 5.0.

Five seasons into its off-net run, “Seinfeld” fell 6% to 4.6.

Coverage of the first two games of the NBA finals on June 7 and June 9 threw off the numbers for many shows in access and primetime dayparts, including the stalwarts “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” by way of preemption and/or competition in many markets.

Ratings for some off-net laffers, however, still moved in the positive direction.

Newcomer “Drew Carey” moved up 3% to 3.9, and fellow freshman “3rd Rock From the Sun” moved up 9% to its highest rating in 15 weeks (3.5). And “The Wayans Bros.” moved up 11% to 2.0.

Syndie mags “Extra” and “Access Hollywood,” which are largely in access, continued to be affected by basketball. Both had series lows during NBA playoffs the previous week, but the pair apparently “got game” from the finals this week. They recovered to ratings levels of previous weeks, with “Extra” moving back up 30% to 3.5, and “Access” moving up 35% to 2.3.

The boost is due in part to their airing in primetime in some markets, following the conclusion of the basketball games.

“Entertainment Tonight” led the mag genre as usual, moving up 4% to 5.6. “Inside Edition” remained at its 11-year low of 2.5, and “National Enquirer TV” remained at 1.4.

Gamers “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy,” also access players, hit new season lows of 9.1 and 7.6, respectively. “Hollywood Squares,” the third-highest rated gamer, moved up 6% to 3.8.

Relationship strips “Change of Heart” and newcomer “Blind Date” were also up. “Change” was up 16% to 2.2 and “Date” was up 11% to 2.0. Frosh “Family Feud” was flat at 2.3.

Daytime was relatively steady, with the court and talk genres largely remaining steady.

The biggest action in the weekly group was a drop by “Earth: Final Conflict,” which is in its third season in syndie. “Earth” moved down 29% to its lowest-ever 1.5.

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