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Champ’s return boosts ‘Jeopardy’

Skein up 21% from same week a year ago

“Jeopardy’s” national rating jumped 26% to a season high of 8.7 during the week of Oct. 25-31, as long-running champ Ken Jennings returned to the show after a kids week the previous week.

Skein was up 21% from the same week a year ago — the most of any show save “Ellen,” whose 1.9 was up 36% from last year (though down a tenth of a point from the previous week).

“Jeopardy” will continue with regular episodes — i.e., possible Jennings victories — throughout the November sweeps period, except for a college tournament Nov 10-23.

None of the rookie firstrun skeins changed too drastically during the week in question. “The Insider” and “Tony Danza” were each down 8%, to a 2.4 and 1.2 respectively. “Jane Pauley” rose 7% to 1.6, matching its series high set during its first week.

None of the other frosh skeins — “Ambush Makeover” (1.1), “Larry Elder” (0.8), “Pat Croce” (0.7), “Life & Style” (0.5), and the now-canceled “Home Delivery” (1.0) — changed by more than a tenth of a point.

During the week in question, some shows in some markets — especially those in the West Coast — suffered preemptions and competition as a result of World Series games Oct 26 and 27. Election specials featuring local candidate debates also took some skeins’ schedule slots.

Syndie strips also battled cable news. Between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, CNN’s average number of viewers was up 30% as compared to the previous week, and Fox News was up 14%, as auds’ anticipation of the presidential election grew.

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