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NCAA frays syndie ratings

The NCAA Tournament continued to bring madness for certain syndicated series, especially ones with access clearances on CBS stations.

For the week ending March 25, which included basketball matches on March 22, 23, 24 and 25, Entertainment Tonight, distributed under the Viacom/CBS-owned Paramount slipped 3% to a 5.7 household rating, almost a full point off its 6.8 score two ratings periods ago, according to Nielsen Media Research. Also, Inside Edition, distributed by CBS-owned King World, landed a 2.8, up 4% but still down from normal levels after a 21% decline the prior week.

But some daytime shows didn't have that basketball preemption excuse. Their unimpressive performances could be due to the lack of promotional bells and whistles in a non-sweeps month. With the exception of Judge Hatchett (2.1, up 5%), all rookie strips were down or unchanged. The revamped Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (0.6, down 14%) hit its lowest marks yet and is 33% below its debut numbers. Others dipping or staying even were Power of Attorney (2.3, flat), Arrest & Trial (1.8, down 5%), Street Smarts (1.8, flat), To Tell the Truth (1.6, down 6%), Curtis Court (1.6, flat), Moral Court (1.0, down 9%), canceled Dr. Laura (0.8, down 11%) and Sex Wars (0.5, down 17%).

Veterans didn't fare much better. People's Court, fronted by new Judge Marilyn Milian, pulled a 1.8, down 10% from last week and off-track 31% from last year. Except for leader Judge Judy (6.2, up 2%) recovering from her prior period's season low, all other court efforts slipped or remained flat, including Judge Joe Brown (3.7, flat), Divorce Court (3.0, down 3%), Judge Greg Mathis (2.2, down 4%) and Judge Mills Lane (1.5, down 12%).

But not everyone looked that sleepy. Entertainment Tonight Weekend (3.6, up 3% from last week, up 24% from last year), did well considering its clustering on basketball-affected CBS stations. Runner-up weeklies were X-Files (3.4, down 11%), Xena (2.9, up 7%) and Andromeda (2.8, down 7%).

Meanwhile, Blind Date (2.0, flat), topped rival dating strip Change of Heart (1.8, down 5%). Top talk honors went to Oprah (5.7, up 2%).
- Susanne Ault