Syndie Strips Down; Weeklies Up Strongly

Most syndicated strips were down in a fairly down summer week (ending Aug. 8), as HUT (homes using television) levels declined by 387,000 households from the previous week. Even so, ratings surged for most major weeklies. Six of the top seven were up, four by double-digits.

Top weekly hour ET Weekend hit its highest ratings in 11 weeks, up 14% to a 3.2. The show featured Kirstie Alley previewing Fat Actress, her upcoming semi-autobiographical comedy/reality Showtime series. Both Showtime and ET parent Paramount are owned by Viacom.
 In a tie for second at a 2.1, off-network dramas West Wing and The Practice, were up 11% and 5%, respectively.  Stargate SG-1 was unchanged at a 2.0 in fourth, followed by ER, up 6% to a 1.8; Maximum Exposure, up 21% to a 1.7; and Mutant X, up 14% to a 1.6.
Among first-run strips, three of the top five court shows gained ground, fueled by developments in the high-profile Kobe Bryant and Laci Peterson cases.
Judge Greg Mathis, up 9% to a 2.4, had the biggest week-to-week and year-to year increase among the top five. The show was up 33% from last year. Other gainers included top-rated Judge Judy, up 7% to a 4.5, and third-place Divorce Court, up 4% to a 2.6, In second place, Judge Joe Brown held steady at 3.4 and, in a tie for fourth, People’s Court was unchanged at a 2.4.
Also bucking the downtrend were the top three mags. Leader ET was up 5% to a 4.5, runner-up Inside Edition added 3% to a 3.2, and Extra was up 5% to a 2.2. Moving lower were Access Hollywood, down 5% to a 2.1 for fourth place and, ironically, Celebrity Justice, down 17% to a 1.0.
Meanwhile, On Air With Ryan Seacrest was off the weekly rankings chart for good as stations dropped the show in advance of its official plug-pulling, reducing its national coverage from  95% for the week ending Aug. 1 to 54%. The show is scheduled to officially exit the air within the next few weeks.
The coverage plunge resulted in the show being broken out of the Nielsen averages, a situation that will continue until its official departure. If a show loses 10% of its average national audience, Nielsen removes it from the weekly syndicated rankings.

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.