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Spring Fever Sinks Syndie Ratings

Early spring weather sent viewing levels for top-tier syndicated barter shows plunging by 2.8 million viewers nationally during the week ended April 2.

But three talk and quiz shows, along with two magazines, showed some strength.

Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight, boosted by a ratings spike on March 30 with a story on Friends and Joey star Matt LeBlanc's divorce filing, also benefited from fewer basketball preemptions as the college championship tournament wound to a close. It gained 8% from an average 4.8 household rating to 5.2 and 2% from last year’s average 5.1.

Companion The Insider also climbed, rising 4% from 2.5 to 2.6 while remaining flat year to year.

Of  the 11 talk shows, three posted slight gains: Buena Vista Television’s Live With Regis and Kelly, 3% from 3.2 to 3.3 but down 8% from last year’s 3.6; NBC Universal’s Maury, 8% from 2.6 to 2.8 while slipping 3% from 2.9 last year; and NBC U’s Starting Over, 10% from 1.0 to 1.1 and flat from a year ago.

Game shows were up for the week but down for the year: King World’s Jeopardy! rose 1% to 7.2 from 7.1 while falling 6% from 7.7 during the corresponding week in 2005; Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? posted a 3% hike from 3.3 to 3.4 and a 6% drop from 3.6 last year; and Tribune’s Family Feud picked up 5% from 2.1 to 2.2 while falling 4% from last year’s 2.3.

All seven court shows dropped, but Warner Bros.’ The People’s Court climbed 8%, from 2.6 to 2.8, versus a year ago.

And among the off-net sitcoms, King World’s Everybody Loves Raymond regained the lead with a 6.3, up 3% from 6.1 last week but down 7% from 6.8 a year ago.

The win came as Warner Bros.’ Friends, which topped the category last week for the first time this season after a weekend marathon on TBS, slid 30% from 6.6 to a third-place 4.6, which was also off 12% from 5.2 last year.

The warmer weather cooled off HBO’s Sex and the City reruns, which hit a series low as the rookie off-network broadcast strip dropped 10% to 1.9 from 2.1.