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May's a Cruel Month, Too

TV viewers were drawn outside the home in the week ended May 4, sending the levels of "people using television" (or PUT) down 10% and driving down the ratings of syndicated shows after the first full week of the May sweeps.

The weekly movie-review shows managed to buck the down trend. They were up strongly for a second straight week. That performance coincided with big spring movie openings and arguably sent even more viewers from the small set to the big screen. Buena Vista's Ebert & Roeper
was up 11% to a 2.1, putting it 24% over the previous two weeks, though down 13% from this time last year. Paramount's Hot Ticket
was the only show in syndication to hit a new season high for the week; it was up 18% to a 2.0, up 43% in the past two weeks, and up 33% year-to-year.

Elsewhere, Sony's Seinfeld
returned to the top of the off-net–sitcom heap and was the only off-net in the top 10 to gain over the week before, up 5% to a 6.6 and up 12% over last year. Warner Bros.'Friends
stayed aloft in the ratings but was down 3% to a 6.4 for second place. It was followed by King World's Everybody Loves Raymond, down 8% to a 5.9. Two sitcoms hit new season lows: Warner Bros.'The Drew Carey Show, down 10% to a 1.8, which was good for 10th place, while Twentieth rookie The Hughleys
was down 14% to a 1.2.

In daytime, King World's Oprah Winfrey Show
was one of only two talk shows in the top 10 to gain ground (Paramount's Montel
was the other). Oprah
led all talkers with a 6.0, up 2% for the week and up 5% year-to-year. Montel
was up 4% to a 2.5, good for fifth place. On the down side, King World's rookie Dr. Phil
slipped a slight 2% to a 4.7; Buena Vista's Live With Regis and Kelly
took a 12% hit to a 3.6 in Kelly Ripa's second week back after a two-month maternity leave; and Universal's Maury
fell 13% to a 2.8.

None of the seven court shows were up. Paramount's Judge Judy led the field, unchanged at a 4.8 but down 19% from last year, the biggest year-to-year drop of any court show; Paramount's Judge Joe Brown fell 6% to a 3.2, and Twentieth's Divorce Court
was off 3% to a 2.8.