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Cold Weather Equals Hot Ratings for Off-Nets

Record-low temperatures in the Northeast kept people indoors during the week ended Jan. 18, providing a boost to two of the top 10 off-net sitcoms.

Carsey-Werner-Mandabach’s That ’70s Show, in its second season, rose 10% to a new series-high 4.3 national household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Sony’s rookie, The King of Queens, was up 3% to a best yet 3.1.

Other off-nets were mixed, with Warner Bros.’ Friends leading the group, despite dipping 1% to 6.6 and Sony’s Seinfeld in second place, sliding 3% to 6.5.

In rookie action, Twentieth’s On Air With Ryan Seacrest debuted on the national chart at a 1.0. That put On Air right in the middle of this season’s rookie premieres, not opening as strong as Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres or Sharon Osbourne, but higher than the opening weeks of NBC Enterprises’ Starting Over and Buena Vista’s Wayne Brady.

Ellen, renewed for next season,continued to lead all new first-runs with a 1.8, down 5% from last week’s season high.
Sharon, in her first week back after her husband’s accident in London last December, was up 8% to a 1.3, although the show isn’t expected to return next fall. Starting Over, also renewed for year two, was down 9% to a 1.0. And King World’s Living It Up! With Ali & Jack, the future of which is uncertain, was down 10% to a 0.9.

In daytime, six of the seven court shows were lower. Paramount’s Judge Judy fell 6% to a 5.0, was down 12% from last year. At a 3.3, Paramount’s Judge Joe Brown was down 11% both week-to-week and year-to-year. Twentieth’s Divorce Court lost 10% to 2.6, down 16% from last year.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court and Warner Bros.’ Judge Greg Mathis each dropped 4% to a 2.2, but compared to last year People’s Court was unchanged, while Mathis rose 16%. Sony’s Judge Hatchett was unchanged at 2.0 but up 11% from last year. And Twentieth’s Texas Justice hit a new season-low, slipping 10% to a 1.8 and tumbling 25% from last year.

The top talk shows were mixed, with King World’s Oprah gaining 11% to a 7.3 week-to-week and 28% over last year. King World’s Dr. Phil fell 4% to a 5.1, but was still 6% ahead of last year. Buena Vista’s Live With Regis and Kelly was down 3% to a 3.9, but up 3% from last year.