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The cruelest month-for syndication

February wasn't great for the new crop of syndication shows, according to a Petry Television analysis of the sweeps, using local market data from the Nielsen Station Index. In its first major sweeps, talk-cooking show Ainsley Harriott, failed to boost the performance of any of its time periods, compared to a year ago, when most of those time periods were occupied by the canceled soap Sunset Beach. In daytime, Ainsley averaged a 1.3 rating and 5 share, down 35% in rating from year-ago time periods.

Dr. Joy Browne, "continues to downtrend from last year's time period in every daypart and will obviously not return in the fall," Petry said. Dr. Joy was down 42%, to an average 1.1 rating. Petry also found that court shows showed some declines in February.

The momentum of Divorce Court, one of the few bright spots in November, slowed dramatically in February, when it was flat in daytime in the key women demos and down slightly among women in early fringe. Both Judge Judy and Judge Mathis were down among younger women in early fringe, Petry said. "Daytime and early fringe remain the strongest time periods for court, but with possibly six more court shows coming next season, it's going to get a little crowded," Petry noted.

The rep also said that 3rd Rock From the Sun and Drew Carey, the two new off-network sitcoms with the highest expectations, continue to struggle this season. Drew was down 8% in early fringe, while 3rd Rock was down 7% versus year ago time periods.