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Bucking a trend

March came in like a lamb for most syndicated shows. Typically, the first post-February sweeps week (this one ended March 10) is characterized by viewing-level drop-offs from the previous week as the promo machines gear down until May. Still, several shows bucked that trend.

The biggest gainer that week was ET Weekend, up 38% from to a 4.4 rating. It was the top weekly hour for a 14th straight week. Compared with the year-ago period, ET Weekend
was up 33%, the biggest year-to-year jump of any weekly hour. Second among weekly hours, up from fifth last week, was Andromeda
at a 3.1, up 7%.

Also strong was rookie off-net King of the Hill,
which hit an all-time high with a 3.8, up 6% for the week and a whopping 52% over its debut the week of Sept. 17. Hill
was No. 4 on the sitcom depth chart behind Everybody Loves Raymond, down 6% to a 5.8. That is still up 38% from its debut the week of Sept. 24. The top off-net sitcom remains Friends, which was up 1% to a 7.4, followed by Seinfeld, down 6% to a 6.7.

Only one of the six late-night dating shows improved that week. Change of Heart
was up 15% to a 1.5 for third place in the genre. Blind Date
was the top relationship strip, with a 2.0 unchanged on the week. Newcomer Elimidate
was second at 1.6, also unchanged.

In the rookie race, Texas Justice
continued to prevail, its 2.1 unchanged from the prior week. Crossing Over With John Edward
was second, down 10% to a 1.9, followed by Weakest Link
at a 1.8, up 6%.

Most talkers, which didn't fare well during the sweeps, lost more ground. Oprah
continued on top with a 5.5, off 7% for the week. Live With Regis and Kelly
hit a new season low with a 3.3, down 11%. Maury
tied for second, off 6%.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.