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Syndication Catches the Christmas Spirit

In syndication, average viewing for the week ended Dec. 21 was down by approximately 270,000 households from the previous week, putting viewing off by almost 2.3 million households since the end of the November sweeps. But viewers were in the Christmas spirit, making Buena Vista’s 1994 movie The Santa Clause the highest-rated syndicated movie of the year.

The Santa Clause, part of the Buena Vista III movie package, earned a 7.7 rating and was the No. 2 show for the week, behind King World’s Wheel of Fortune. The movie, starring Tim Allen, appeared in theaters in 1994, but last month marked its first syndicated showing.

This season’s second-highest-rated movie was Ernest Saves Christmas, part of Buena Vista’s Imagination VII movie package, which scored a 4.0. The Santa Clause was the highest-rated movie in the Buena Vista III series since the December 2001 airing of Sister Act2, and was up 114% over the package’s average movie rating.

Also bucking the week’s general downward trend were the dating shows, many of which air in late night and often heat up at this time of year when younger viewers are home from college. Twentieth’s Ex-Treme Dating, renewed last week for a second season, had its best week ever, jumping 9% to 1.2, a new series high. Universal’s Blind Date led the genre as usual, gaining 7% to 1.6. Warner Bros.’ Elimi-date was up 8% to 1.4 and Universal’s Fifth Wheel rose 11% to 1.0.

On the other hand, King World’s Oprah slipped to a new low for the season, losing 3% to 6.0 but still topping the talk shows. King World’s Dr. Phil, which hit a season-low the week before, was up 4% to 5.2. Buena Vista’s Live with Regis & Kelly was up 3% to 4.0. Universal’s Maury was down 3% to 2.9. Paramount’s Montel Williams was flat at 2.5, rounding out the top five. The biggest percentage gainer among the talkers was Universal’s Crossing Over with John Edward, which jumped 25% to 1.0.

In sitcoms, Sony’s Seinfeld led the group with a 6.1, down 6% for the week and down 16% from last year. Warner Bros.’ Friends was second at a 5.7, down 7% for the week and down 17% year-to-year. King World’s Everybody Loves Raymond was third at 5.4, down 4% for the week and off 14% from last year.