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Syndies: Laughter is the best medicine

The week ending May 19 included the third full week of the May sweep (April
25 through May 22) for syndicated strips and the fourth and final weekend for

As a group, off-net sitcoms were the strongest genre, with the top six all
gaining on the previous week.

Going in the other direction was Spin City, which recorded a
two-season low, down 13 percent to a 1.3 rating. Compared with last year at this
time, the show is down 43 percent.

Friends led the off-net pack with a 7.3 rating, up 7 percent, followed by
Seinfeld, 6.2, up 3 percent; Everybody Loves Raymond, 5.9, up 4
percent; Frasier, 3.4, up 6 percent; King of the Hill, 3.2, up 3
percent; and Just Shoot Me, 2.4, up 4 percent.

With all the weekends counted, five of the top eight veteran weekly hours
were down by double-digits this May compared with last year's May sweep.

In their defense, those hours had strong competition from 59 hours of
National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and National Association
for Stock Car Auto Racing coverage, which saw combined ratings improve 7 percent
from last year.

The sweep winner among weekly hours was Entertainment Tonight Weekend,
with a 3.6 rating, down 3 percent from last May. It was the only weekly hour to
score above a 3 rating. It was also the sixth straight sweeps win for ET

The X-Files came in second, down 21 percent to a 2.7.

Between second place and sixth was a gap of only two tenths of a rating
point. In a three-way tie for third at a 2.6 were Andromeda, down 13
percent; Stargate SG-1, down 7 percent; and rookie The Practice.
In sixth place was ER, down 17 percent to a 2.5.