Soaring with the stars
By Susanne Ault -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/11/2001 7:00:00 PM
Shining as brightly as the stars it covers, Entertainment Tonight Weekend scored its highest sweeps average in eight years, soaring 30% over its performance in February 2000. Posting a 4.8 rating during the period Feb. 1-25, according to Nielsen Media Research, ET Weekend was the only weekly among the top-10 hours to make any gains over last year.
Since its switch to a biographical format in February 1999-it had been largely an extension of the daily celebrity-news strip- ET Weekend is up a hefty 50%. As for why viewers are flocking to ET Weekend, forgoing competitors such as The X-Files (3.8, down 16% from February 2000), Xena (3.4, down 11%) and ER (3.3, down 27%), Katz TV's Bill Carroll contends that ET Weekend "is just doing a much better job. They have done an unbelievable job in refocusing the show."
By mirroring TV's current biography trend (for example, E! Entertainment's True Hollywood Story franchise and VH1's Behind the Music), Carroll explains, ET Weekend has been able to exploit "its unique asset: having one of the largest libraries of entertainment programming." In 20 years on the air, ET Weekend has collected a lot of archival material, which helps in piecing together nostalgic episodes like "TV's Greatest Scandals" or "What Ever Happened To."
But it's a wrong assessment, he adds, to think ET Weekend is doing well at the expense of other weekly efforts. Also among shows whose numbers are off from last year are Stargate SG-1 (3.0, down 21%), V.I.P. (2.5, down 19%), Earth: Final Contact (2.3, down 4%) and Beastmaster (2.2, down 12%)."
With more cable options, with fewer of these shows running in prime time because of increased programming from growing networks WB and UPN, shows are going to be down," Carroll explains. "So anything down by under 15% is nominal. If everything were down by 30%, I would be concerned. But 10% or 15% is normal breakage."
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