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Factoring-In Fear

First-day ratings for Fear Factor, the first reality strip to debut in off-network syndication, are in, and they have yet to strike fear into the competition.

It was only day one, however, and the show will be watched closely in the coming weeks to see how repeatable the reality contest format is, one of the key questions about network TV's genre du jour. Most network entertainment shows have made their big money in syndication.

On Monday, Fear Factor averaged a 1.2 rating/3 share in the metered markets, down 20% from its year-ago time period average of 1.5/3 and down 14% from its average lead-in 1.4/3.

That puts it behind the off-net debuts of two other shows, the Sept 13 launch of Malcolm in the Middle at a 2.2/4, and slightly behind Girlfriends, which also debuted Sept. 13 with a 1.3/3.

Fear Factor's debut was significantly ahead of Yes, Dear, which premiered Sept. 13 with a 0.7/2 share, although the comparison is somewhat apples to maggots, since those other shows are all sitcoms.

Ratings are for 48 metered markets, with six hurricane-challenged markets--Greenville, West Palm, Birmingham, New Orleans, Jacksonville, and Fort Myers--not reporting.