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Blind Date finds true happiness

Rookie relationship/game strip Blind Date scored its all-time ratings high of a 2.4 for the week ended July 23, according to Nielsen Media Research.

During a week of repeats, Blind Date's repeat surpassed its season-to-date number (1.8) by 33%. Its 15% climb from the previous ratings period was also the biggest upswing for any of the major syndicated strips. Blind Date's performance is also impressive considering that the show debuted last fall with a 1.3.

Blind Date's boost could be attributed to its attractiveness to the younger demos, who can cram in more TV watching while school is out. Youth-skewing talk show Maury Povich (up 5% to a 4.1) also fared well, bumping Jerry Springer (down 2% to a 4.0) from his usual second place among the chat crowd. Also, slightly older-targeted Rosie O'Donnell is feeling the heat-dropping to 9th place among 11 returning talk series but rising 4% for the week to a 2.7.

In other Blind Date stats, the show beefed up its male 18-34 audience (1.9) by 36% compared with last week. It was also the top-rated first-run strip in that demo.

"Summer has proven to be an opportunity for more men and teens to sample the show," notes Matt Cooperstein, senior VP, domestic television, for Universal Worldwide Television, which produces and syndicates the show. "[Blind Date's guerrilla dating concept] is a new format, and it's taken audiences a while to find it. So this is validation that audiences are really starting to embrace the show."

As for other game developments, syndication's overall winner Wheel of Fortune fell 1% to a 9.1, and runner-up Jeopardy rose 1% to a 7.7; followed by Hollywood Squares (flat at a 3.8), Family Feud (up 4% to a 2.5) and Change of Heart (down 8% to a 2.3).