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B-Ball Hurts Syndie Viewing

A combination of college hoops and warm weather drove average syndie viewing down during the week ended March 28. The second week of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, aka March Madness, caused preemptions for shows on CBS stations and provided strong competition for programs opposite the games.

Milder weather also helped decrease syndie viewing by 784,000 households or 4% of the total audience from the already depressed levels of the prior week.

But the news wasn’t all bad. Despite a vacationing Kelly Ripa, Buena Vista’s Live With Regis and Kelly still managed to be syndication’s top gainer. Guest hosts Jay Leno, Donald Trump, Ben Affleck, and Regis Philbin’s wife, Joy, all sat in Kelly’s seat, helping Live jump 10% to a 3.4 national household rating for the week.

King World’s Oprah, the top talker, was up 9% to 6.1 and King World’s Dr. Phil, the No. 2 talk show was up 9% to 4.8, despite only airing three original shows during the week.

Elsewhere in daytime, none of the court shows were up. Paramount’s Judge Judy led the group but slipped 2% to 4.8. Paramount’s Judge Joe Brown, flat at 3.4, was second, followed by Twentieth’s Divorce Court, unchanged at 2.6.

Magazines also had a rough week. Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight, despite being preempted in 22 of the 55 metered markets on Thursday and Friday, was tops with a 4.9, down 8%. None of the top-five off-net sitcoms saw a gain, but Sony’s Seinfeld at a 6.3, down 2%, was No. 1 for the week. Among game shows, only King World’s Jeopardy was up, gaining 1% to 7.3. King World’s Wheel of Fortune continued to lead all of syndication, despite losing 2% to 8.7.

In weekend action, three of the top-four weekly hours managed to buck the downtrend. Paramount’s ET Weekend, the number-one weekly hour, rose 7% to 3.0. Twentieth’s The Practice was up 10% to 2.2. MGM/NBC’s Stargate SG-1 slid 9% to 2.1 in third place, while Warner Bros.’ ER jumped 18% to 2.0.