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Talk Shows, Newsmagazines Flourish as May Sweeps Start

Buoyed by the first two days of May sweeps, talk and newsmagazine shows prospered with double-digit week-to-week gains, according to Nielsen national syndication rankings for the week ending May 1.

It was a different story when it came to year-to-year comparisons for news and entertainment magazines. All the shows, which have a bevy of access clearances, continued to see slight to mild year-to-year losses.

The same could not be said of King World’s top-rated access series Wheel of Fortune, which held even from last year at an 8.4 rating, while improving slightly from the previous week and in all key demos.

Paramount’s freshman strip The Insider proved to be another interesting story. Prior to Pat O’Brien’s return to his co-anchor post, Insider posted the largest increase among entertainment magazines for the week, climbing 13% to a 2.6, and 17% to a 1.4 in women 18-49. Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight, which has long led the genre, improved 11% for the week with a 5.0 but fell 4% for the year.

King World’s Inside Edition, which suffered the least year-to-year erosion of any magazine show, with a 3% drop off, climbed 6% for the week, to a 3.3.

The four talk shows with the biggest week-to-week increases were Telepictures’ Ellen DeGeneres Show, hoofing its way up 18% to a 2.0 rating and improving 5% from the previous year; Paramount’s Montel Williams Show (2.5), up 14% and 4% for the year-ago comparison; NBC Universal’s Jerry SpringerShow (2.4) up 14% and 9% from the previous year; and King World’s Dr. Phil (5.7), up 10% and 6% year-to-year.

King World’s talk-show leader The Oprah Winfrey Show (7.4) continued to show amazing strength, gaining 6% for the week and 14% for the year, while leading all syndicated programs for the week in women 18-49 and 25-54.