‘TMZ’ TV debuts strong despite falter

Celeb show's audience down 25% from '06

It was good news/bad news for Warner Bros. Domestic TV’s “TMZ” celebs-in-hot-water magazine, the most highly touted of the rookie series making their debut in TV syndication last week.

The good news: More viewers watched the half-hour than any other new five-a-weeker. The bad: “TMZ” was down 25% from the year-ago time period and down 17% from its lead-in.

Another new firstrun series, NBC Universal Domestic’s “The Steve Wilkos Show,” didn’t pull as many households as “TMZ.” (TV stations scheduled it in daytime slots, when audience levels are low.) But the 1.1 rating of “Wilkos” grew by 10% over its lead-in, and the show’s numbers were even with the programs in the time period during September 2006.

Both “Wilkos” and “TMZ” could boast that they did well with their target aud of women 25-54. In that demo, the “Wilkos” ratings were up 60% from the lead-in and 14% from a year ago. The numbers for “TMZ” in women 25-54 were up 11% from September 2006 and even with the lead-in show.

The reruns of two strong broadcast-network comedies, Warner Bros. Domestic’s “Two and a Half Men” and Twentieth TV’s animated “Family Guy,” kicked off last week and “performed reasonably well,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for rep firm Katz TV.

“Two and a Half Men” averaged a 2.0 rating, which was even with its lead-in and down 13% from the year-ago time period. “Family Guy” averaged a 1.8 rating, down 5% from its lead-in and down 18% in the time period.

Three other original series began inauspiciously last week: Sony Pictures TV’s “Judge David Young” (down 11% from both lead-in and year ago), Program Partners’ “Merv Griffin’s Crossroads” (down 20% from lead-in and down 38% in the time period) and Twentieth TV’s “Temptation” gamer (down 17% from lead-in and down 50% in the time period).

Two other rerun comedies premiered last week: Warner Bros. Domestic’s “The George Lopez Show” averaged a 0.9 household rating, even with its lead-in but down 18% in the time period, and MGM TV’s “Reno 911” was down 14% from its lead-in and down 25% in the time period.

“After only one week, it’s too early to discern any trends yet,” said Carroll. He added that when daylight saving time ends on Nov. 4, and it gets dark earlier, more people will head indoors to watch TV, potentially giving some of these shows a ratings boost.

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