Who knew that Regis Philbin, the 72-year-old host of Buena Vista's Live with Regis and Kelly and ABC's Super Millionaire, would be almost as big a draw for viewers of Twentieth's On Air with Ryan Seacrest as teen idol Britney Spears?
Philbin's March 18 appearance on Seacrest's daytime show drew a 1.4 household rating, according to Nielsen, the show's second best performance after Britney hit a 1.6 on Feb. 11. Janet Jackson performs live this Friday and she is likely to give the show a ratings spike as well.
Regis' showing drove On Air up 10% week-to-week, to score a 1.1 for the week ending March 21. That wasn't the greatest week for most syndie shows, mainly thanks to preemptions due to CBS's airing of the annual NCAA basketball tournament, aka March Madness, for which many CBS affiliates preempt regular programming.
Some other shows were hurt by running against the games, which represented atypically strong competition in certain markets. Comparisons to last year at this time also are problematic since most shows had only two- or three-day averages due to coverage of the invasion of Iraq.
But Ryan wasn't the only rookie syndie to improve week-to-week. King World's Living It Up! with Ali & Jack was also up 10% to 1.1. NBC Enterprises' Starting Over was up 9% to a 1.2, tying Warner Bros. canceled The Sharon Osbourne Show, which was unchanged for second place among newcomers. Warner Bros.' The Ellen DeGeneres Show continued to lead the freshmen by a wide margin, gaining 6% to a 1.9 despite being preempted in a half-dozen markets on Thursday and Friday.
Other than Ellen, most of the genre leaders were down in part because they didn't air until after midnight, if they were on at all, in several of the major markets.