A May affair with Blind Date

In May, viewers were apparently attracted to Blind Date. Universal's relationship strip bested many of its May 2000 results in key ratings categories.

For the sweeps month, the show scored a 2.1 in households, 17% better than in the year-ago period, according to Nielsen Media Research. Among women 18-49, Blind Date
shot up 25%; men 18-49, up 18%; women 18-34, up 20%; and men 18-34, up 8%.

Plus, for 10 consecutive weeks, Blind Date
has drawn more households than Change of Heart. It topped its relationship rival also in most season-to-date (March 12-May 14) ratings, including households (2.0 vs. 1.9), adults 18-34 (1.5 vs. 1.3) and adults 18-49 (1.3 vs. 1.2).

This surge can be chalked up to "the way TV works nowadays," says Matt Cooperstein, Universal's domestic syndication chief. "Audiences don't come instantaneously. They're sampling so many different kinds of cable and network programming. But once they find Blind Date, they don't leave." And there's more where they came from, he insists. Blind Date
should really heat up this summer.

Full of reruns, "the summer is traditionally the weakest season for many shows," Cooperstein points out. "But it's our strongest season because there are so many more of our target adult 18-34s available to watch," with a lot of that crowd out of college for the period.

A slew of dating strips—including Paramount's Rendez-View, Columbia TriStar's Shipmates
and Warner Bros.' Elimidate—will enter the fray in late summer or early fall, but Cooperstein isn't concerned.

"We're not done yet," he explains, noting Universal's goal of the show's traveling more during the 2001-02 season to such places as Washington, D.C., and Dallas, "keeping it fresh." Universal is also in negotiations for the show to travel internationally.

The studio is also launching another dating show of its own, The 5th Wheel, which, in being paired with Blind Date
in 80% of the top-100 markets, delivers "one-stop shopping for our audience," says Cooperstein. "I know I haven't lost ground to the competition.

"I see Blind Date
having a long life," he adds. "I'll take my chances with Blind Date."