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Fall bows deliver ratings trickle in early going

NEW YORK — The 2001-’02 syndicated season is off to a disappointing start, with the first three series to hit the air — Buena Vista TV’s “Iyanla,” Studios USA’s “Crossing Over With John Edward” and Columbia TriStar TV’s “Shipmates” — unable to hold either their lead-in ratings or the ratings of the time periods they inherited.

The first week of national Nielsens are giving “Iyanla,” which kicked off Aug. 13, an unimpressive 1.2 rating. Even more disconcerting, all of the key demographic categories of adult women for “Iyanla” are below a 1.0 rating.

Only two days of overnight ratings are in for “John Edward” and “Shipmates,” each of which premiered Aug. 27, but “Edward” shows greater promise based on some solid performances in individual markets. The two-day average of “Edward” is a 1.5 rating, which is 12% below its lead-in and 12% down from the time periods last year.

“Shipmates,” which runs latenight in more than half of its timeslots, averaged a 1.0 for the two days. That’s off 17% from its lead-in and down 23% from year-ago time periods.

No one is throwing in the towel on these three series so early in the Nielsen game, and the distributors insist that the programs are going into time periods that are broken because their previous series inhabitants flopped.

Also, the distributors say, summer viewing levels are down, making it harder for new shows to get a sampling.

“Edward” fell from a solid 1.6 overnight rating Aug. 27 to a 1.4 rating Aug. 28, a drop of 13%, and that means it may take at least a few more days before analysts will be able to judge if “Edward” can stabilize at a level that would stamp it as a success. The series is averaging better than a 2 rating in markets such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis.

Because it’s a relationship show, “Shipmates” appears to work better in time periods where it follows such veteran shows as “Blind Date” and “Change of Heart.” On WWOR New York, for example, it’s averaging close to a 3 rating at 11:30 p.m., behind the successful “Blind Date.”

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