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More Bucks Boost Trading Spaces

TLC hit Trading Spaces
just keeps on building. A special episode of the remodeling reality series on Oct. 5 nabbed a 7.0 Nielsen rating with 9.1 million viewers, mammoth numbers for that series.

A Trading Spaces
episode typically draws about 3 million viewers, making it one of cable's strongest original series. Still, TLC General Manager Roger Marmat was a bit surprised by the special's success: "I don't know where all those viewers came from."

But he knows why. For the night, the show was retitled Trading Space$: 100 Grand
and the budget raised to $50,000 per house from the $1,000 that the novice remodelers usually get to spend. With that much money, the furniture can be reupholstered rather than having new fabric stapled on.

Airing on Sunday night, rather than the show's usual Saturday-night slot, the two-hour special went head-to-head with NBC's American Dreams
and CBS's new drama Cold Case
as well as baseball playoffs on Fox.

"It shows that, obviously, the concept and the franchise are strong," said Marmat.

Future specials will air on Sundays, including Trading Spaces: Home Free, an eight-episode miniseries beginning March 5 on which couples will compete for a Florida dream house. Also planned are bloopers and behind-the-scenes specials.

Trading Spaces
is TLC's favorite lead-in for new series it hopes to build. Airing after the $100,000 special, For Better or for Worse, where engaged couples turn their wedding plans over to experts, scored a strong 2.6. It
will air regularly on Sunday nights.