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Something from 'nothing'

8/12/2001 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Nationally, Seinfeld
is 14% below where it was at this time last year, according to Nielsen research for the week ending July 29. You'd think that would be scary for stations that paid Columbia TriStar top dollar for the show's second syndication run, which rolled out in April.

Not so, according to six key Fox O&Os that picked up Seinfeld
and are going like gangbusters with it. The show scored a 5.6/11 share for the month of July, averaging its performances in New York, Boston, Detroit, Phoenix, St. Louis and Milwaukee. That's a 44% surge from what those stations were doing with previous programming (3.9/7), including The Simpsons
and 3rd Rock From the Sun. That's also way above the May average for the show on those stations (4.9/9).

"It was a big deal because we paid a couple of bucks for it," says Frank Cicha, Fox O&O vice president of programming. But he realized he'd have to be patient. "It's going to take awhile for a show like this when it changes stations," he says, suggesting that viewers were probably confused when Seinfeld
moved from 7 p.m. on WPIX(TV) to 11 p.m. on WNYW-TV in New York.

Steve Mosko, Columbia TriStar's syndication chief, says Seinfeld's national number will rise as well, once viewers get comfortable with all the changes. Mosko also says the Fox stations "did a fantastic job promoting and marketing this program" so people would know where to find it.

Might Seinfeld
be one of the first series to get shared or switched among Fox' new duopolies in Los Angeles and New York? Currently, Seinfeld
runs on former Chris-Craft, now Fox-owned KCOP-TV in Los Angeles.

One insider says "a conversation" is likely. The Fox O&Os are signed on for double runs of Seinfeld, to start in the fall, so it should be simpler to place it on different stations in a market: Columbia TriStar won't have to work out new residual payment arrangements to Seinfeld
talent because of the extra plays. Also, the cumed ratings from any multiple Seinfeld
runs should mean more ad dollars.

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