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Syndicated Sitcoms Settle Down

Off-network sitcoms returned to their usual pecking order during the week ended Aug. 14 in Nielsen’s national barter rankings.

King World’s Everybody Loves Raymond was flat week to week at a 5.5. It was followed by Seinfeld (5.4), down 4% from the previous week.

Warner Bros.’ Friends experienced the biggest week-to-week collapse, falling 27% to 4.9, landing in its usual third-place standing among the comedy reruns. During the previous week, the sitcom gained 29%, thanks to a Friends marathon on cable network TBS, which figured into its average.

In court, meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ People’s Court (up 13% to 2.6) and Judge Mathis (9% higher to 2.4) jumped the most from the previous year. For the week, four court shows were slightly higher. Besides JudgeJudy, they were Paramount’s Judge Joe Brown (up 3% to 3.1), People’s Court and Twentieth TV’s Divorce Court (up 4% to 2.6).

In talk, four programs were marginally higher during the week: King World’s Oprah Winfrey climbed 2% to 5.6 and Dr. Phil increased 2% to 4.2; Buena Vista’s Live with Regis & Kelly gained 6% to 3.5 and NBC Universal’s Maury was 7% higher at 3.1.

Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres, whose star will return as host of the Primetime Emmy Awards Sept. 18 on CBS, saw the biggest year-to-year leap, with a 14% gain to 1.6. On the downside, Paramount’s Montel Williams declined the most, off 16% for the year to 2.1.

Among the news magazines, none fared so well during the weekdays, with leader Entertainment Tonight (4.2) and companion The Insider (2.3) hard hit by sports preemptions in a handful of top markets on Aug. 12.

The weekend was a different story. Without any major preemptions, the weekly hours sprung to life on the weekend. ET Weekend saw its ratings pop to their highest level in 10 weeks, with a surge of interest in the life and death of ABC anchorman Peter Jennings.