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Newsmag Ratings Boosted By Ramsey Coverage

The arrest of John Mark Karr, who confessed but ultimately was not charged in the death of JonBenet Ramsey, lifted the top four syndicated entertainment and news magazines during the week ending Aug. 20.

In fact, they were the only first-run strips in the Nielsen national barter rankings to improve over the previous and year-ago weeks, as they rushed to raise doubts about Karr’s confession.

CBS Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight gained 5% for the week and 7% for the year to 4.4, but scored a high-water mark of 4.8 Aug. 17 with an interview of the late Patsy Ramsey's sister, Pam Paugh. She served as a family spokesperson while the strange drama played out in the notorious decade-old murder case.

King World’s second-ranked Inside Edition finished at 3.3, up 6% for the week and 10% for the year.

ET companion The Insider rose 4% for the week but posted the biggest year-to-year increase of any strip in first-run syndication, soaring 14% to 2.5. For only the second time since the death of Superman Christopher Reeve in 2004, The Insider devoted an entire episode during the week to a single subject—the Karr case—rather than running its usual allotment of 15 or so stories.

NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood, at 2.2, gained 5% for the week and year. Warner Bros.’ Extra, which determined the story was not as newsworthy, earned a 1.9, unchanged in both comparisons.

During the normally quiet late summer week, only two first-run strips out the magazine genre showed any signs of improvement in year-to-year comparisons: Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, up 4% to 2.6 but down a like amount for the week, and Tribune’s Family Feud (2.1), rising 5% and losing the same amount versus the previous week.