Auds tune out over holidays

Easter, Passover sinks syndies

Holidays are always bad news for syndication ratings as auds traditionally turn away from daytime TV, so last week’s double whammy of Easter and Passover had a generally depressive effect on syndicated strips.

The festive combo, which also fell in the second week (ending April 23) of daylight savings time, pushed audience levels down by 900,000 week to week, and by an average of 5 million from three weeks before.

Only three of the 11 talk shows saw week to week improvements. “Oprah” clawed up 7% to a 6.4 after a two week lapse, while “Live with Regis and Kelly,” which continues to be a Nielsen powerhouse in morning TV, scored a 3.3 rating, climbing 3% after an appearance from Vanna White. “Maury,” whose show has just been hit by a producer’s $100 million sexual harrassment suit, was up 4% to 2.6.

Second place yakker “Dr. Phil” sank 6% to a 4.5. “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, the only daytime skein with a big increase last week when it leapt 20%, dropped off 8% to a 2.2. “Montel Williams” fell 4%, tying with “Jerry Springer”, which was flat, for a 1.8.

Rookie talker “Tyra Banks” slipped 6% to a 1.5, just behind “Martha,” which was unchanged at 1.6. However, “Tyra” was easily the top rated rookie in the younger demos, dominating newcomers in women 18-49 and 18-34.

Most court shows were at or near season lows. Perennially first place “Judge Judy” dropped 2% to a 4.5, while “People’s Court” jumped into a tie for second place with fellow gaveler “Judge Joe Brown” for the first time this season with an unchanged week to week rating of 2.8; “Joe Brown” dropped 8%. “Divorce Court” fell 4% to a 2.4, “Judge Mathis” was flat at 2.3, and “Judge Alex” faded 9% to a 2.0.

Elsewhere, top tier game shows, magazines and all of the top three off-net sitcoms had a dismal holiday, all hitting new season lows. “Everybody Loves Raymond” fell 7% to a 5.4, “Seinfeld” cooled 2% to a 2.9, while “Friends” sunk 9% to a 4.1.

Despite a 6% drop to 4.6, “Entertainment Tonight” was easily the number one rated magazine for the 510th consecutive week.

“Wheel of Fortune” topped game shows, although it dipped 4% to an 8.1.