Viewers See Old Friends Again

Off-network episodes of Warner Bros.’ Friends leaped to the No. 2 position among all syndicated shows during the week ended Aug. 7, thanks to a TBS basic-cable marathon of the sitcom that figured into its national barter average.

Marking the first time since September that Friends topped the off-net sitcom pack in the Nielsen rankings, it earned a 6.7 rating (and scored a whopping 9.4 in the gross average audience ratings used by advertisers, which are more sensitive to additional runs).

Its strong showing is likely a one-week wonder, with Friends soaring 29% from the previous week and 31% from the prior year, ahead of Sony’s Seinfeld (up 6% for the week and 2% for the year to 5.6). The usual sitcom leader, King World’s Everybody Loves Raymond, landed in third place for the first time this season with a 5.5, down 4% for the week and 7% for the year.

Elsewhere, there was the usual ebb and flow for shows, which were in reruns during the dog days of summer.

In the talk category, repeats of NBC Universal’s Starting Over, which is really more of a serialized “reality” show, hovered below a 1 rating but was the only series to pick up week to week. It gained 13% to a 0.9 household rating and 17% to a 0.7 in women 18-49.

Elsewhere in talk, NBCU’s fourth-place Maury earned a 2.9, down 3% from the previous week and flat for the year, while its Jerry Springer was even in both comparisons at a 2.2

In the mixed bag department, Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, along with WB’s Extra, were the only magazines to improve for the week. Buena Vista TV’s Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and Tribune’s Family Feud, meanwhile, posted the only improvements among game shows.