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Storm Clouds Syndication

Hurricane Katrina blew away any semblance of normalcy for syndicated shows in Nielsen's national ratings during the week ended Sept. 4. With storm-related preemptions, coupled with the holiday weekend, most shows posted major declines. Coverage levels reflected on the Nielsen chart were also misleading, as many syndicated shows were shifted to the wee hours.

King World's Jeopardy!, which normally finishes second, dropped to sixth place in households thanks to news overruns, leaving the syndicator's Oprah Winfrey Show in second with a 5.5 rating. And King World's top-rated Wheel of Fortune counted only Tuesday-Thursday in its week-long average, presumably due to both the storm and the holiday.

The national numbers were released a day after Nielsen informed clients that the impact of the hurricane on intab rates (percentage of metered homes reporting) was not significant, because the affected markets represent a small segment of the nation's viewing population. Those rates dropped only 1% Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 and returned to pre-hurricane levels (92% nationally) since then.

Nielsen noted in a memo to clients that, of the 44 national-people-meter homes in New Orleans, 41 reported on Aug. 24, and only one did on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

There will no be New Orleans October local measurement. Nielsen said the extent of damage to the region won't be known for eight months, following the next U.S. Census update.

No ratings modifications are planned for cable ratings, which are calculated monthly based on national installed sample counts and individual cable networks' access to homes.