Syndie Rebounds from B-Ball

During the second week of March Madness, basketball again caused some problems for syndicated shows with approximately 25 hours of pre-emptions on CBS affiliates.

The good news was that that was about 11 hours fewer than week one of the NCAA basketball championship tournament. That combined with fresh episodes from some strips (five-day-a-week shows) that were in repeats the previous week helped some recoup some of the basketball ratings losses.

For instance, five veteran talk shows bounced back from the previous week, with the biggest single improvement a 33% jump by the just-renewed reality show, Starting Over, which averaged a 1.2, up 9% over last year.

The big leap for that show was fueled by a 1.4 on Friday, March 25, its highest-rated single day of the season and up 40% from the prior Friday.

Also on the rebound were top talker, Oprah, at a 6.6, up 8% from last week's season low; syndicated sibling Dr Phil (they are both distributed by King World), up 10% to a 5.3;

Jerry Springer, up 4% to a 2.4; and Ellen, up 5% to a 2.3 and up 28% from last year, the largest year-to-year gain of any gabber.

In rookie action, all the surviving newcomers were higher. The Insider, which has been renewed for year two, was up 9% to a 2.5 despite losing its primary runs to basketball in more than a dozen markets March 24-25, including four of the top five. Tony Danza, which has also been renewed, was also up 9%--to a 1.2--even though it was in repeats for a second straight week. Ambush Makeover was up 10% to a 1.1 and Larry Elder was up 11% to a 1.0.

Judge Judy was up 2% to a 5.2 to lead all courtroom shows, while Judge Joe Brown was unchanged at a 3.5. Year-to year, Judy was up 8% and Joe was ahead by 3%. Divorce Court, in third, was up 7% to a 3.0 and up 15% from last year.

On the syndicated magazine rack, although leader-in-perpetuity Entertainment Tonight lost primary telecasts in 24 metered markets for two days thanks to basketball, it still easily topped the field with a 4.5, up 2% in households. Inside Edition was down 3% to a 3.2; Access Hollywood was unchanged at a 2.5; Extra was down 4% to a 2.2

Wheel of Fortune's fortunes slipped 3% to an 8.7, still a rating to die for, while Jeopardy was down 4% to a 7.3.

Off-net leader Everybody Loves Raymond lost 3% to a 6.4; Malcolm in the Middle led off-net rookies with a 3.2, though down 6%.

On the weekend, crime drama CSI was the off-net hour leader, and one of the top shows in all of syndication, with a 5.3, up 2%, while ET Weekend was number one in first run weekly hours with a 2.8, up 17%.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.