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Syndies: Daytime TV benefits from bad weather

Daytime television audiences increased by 6 percent during February's cold
weather, bringing many syndicated shows big boosts during sweeps.

Most of the new first-run game and talk strips showed sharp growth in
February compared with their September debuts.

Buena Vista Television's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, syndication's top new
game show, showed the biggest improvement of any rookie, gaining 46 percent over
its debut to a 3.5 average household rating during the sweep.

This season's other new game show, Sony Pictures Television's Pyramid, was up 18 percent
to a 2.0.

The biggest gainer among rookie daytime talkers was King World Productions' Dr.
Phil
, up 25 percent to a 5.5.

NBC Enterprises' The John Walsh Show was up 36 percent to a 1.5.

Among the established talk shows, only the top three were up over last year.

King World's Oprah was up 16 percent to a 6.7. Buena Vista's Live
with Regis and Kelly
was up 8 percent to a 4.2.

And Universal Television's Maury was up 6 percent to a 3.6. Paramount Television's Montel
Williams
was flat at a 2.8.

Universal's Jerry Springer was down 7 percent to a 2.7. Sony's
Ricki Lake and Warner Bros.' Jenny Jones each were down 5 percent
to 1.8.

Ratings among the court shows were mixed, with Paramount's Judge Judy,
the genre leader, down 5 percent from last year to a 5.6.

Paramount's other top court show, Judge Joe Brown, was up 3 percent to
3.7.

Twentieth Television's Divorce Court was up 10 percent to a 3.2 and Twentieth's
Texas Justice was up 19 percent to a 2.5.

Warner Bros.' People's Court was up 10 percent to a 2.3.

And Warner Bros.' Judge Greg Mathis was not offered in an hour-long
format this season, but it was up 29 percent over its season-to-date average to a
2.2.

Sony's Judge Hatchett was down 10 percent to a 1.8.

The additional TV viewers were not so apparent since access is always
a popular time to watch television. However, all four magazines showed solid
growth over last year.

Paramount's Entertainment Tonight marked a milestone, with 50 sweeps
in a row as the No. 1 magazine.

The last time ET lost a sweep was almost 13 years ago, to Twentieth's
A Current Affair.

ET was up 6 percent to a 6.6. King World's Inside Edition was up
12 percent to a 3.7 average.

NBC Enterprises' Access Hollywood was up 7 percent to a 3.0, the
show's best sweep since February 1997.

Warner Bros.' Extra was up 7 percent to a 2.9.

In game shows, King World's Wheel of Fortune was up 2 percent to a
10.3, while its Jeopardy! was down 6 percent to a 8.0.

Newcomer Millionaire's 3.5 gave it the No. 3 slot.

King World's Hollywood Squares was up 4 percent to a 2.9, while
Tribune Broadcasting's Family Feud was down 17 percent to a 1.9.

Also at a 1.9 was Universal's top dating-game show, Blind Date,
unchanged at a 1.9.

That show was followed by Warner Bros.' Elimidate and NBC's
just-canceled The Weakest Link, each with a 1.8.

Elimidate was up 13 percent from last year, while Weakest Link was
up 6 percent.

Universal's Fifth Wheel was flat at a 1.5.

Telepictures' Street Smarts was down 13 percent to a 1.4. Warner
Bros.'

Change of Heart was down 14 percent to a 1.2, and Sony's Shipmates
was down 27 percent to 0.8. Shipmates is not expected to return next
season.

Among off-net sitcoms, Warner Bros.' Friends was just barely on top,
beating Sony's Seinfeld in a photo finish.

Friends, with many broadcast double-runs, was up 3 percent to a 7.7,
while Seinfeld, with more cable runs, was up 13 percent to a 7.6.

King World's Everybody Loves Raymond was up 8 percent to 6.6.

And two off-net rookies came in fourth and fifth: Warner Bros.' Will &
Grace
with a 4.3 and Carsey-Werner-Mandabach's That 70s Show with a 3.9.

Paige Albiniak
Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.