Basketball batters Friends, Seinfeld


Off-net access and late-fringe giants Friends and Seinfeld posted their lowest marks ever for the week ended June 11, leading some industry analysts to conclude that the NBA playoffs that were slam dunks for NBC were "in your face" for some competing syndicated shows.

Compared with last week's national ratings tally, second-season Friends slipped 4% to a 5.1, and fifth-season Seinfeld dipped 6% to a 4.6. Friends, down 14% from its numbers for the same time last year, was also way down from its 6.1 season-to-date rating. Likewise, Seinfeld (pulling a season-to-date 5.7) was off 13% from the year-ago period.

In addition to NBA match-ups on June 7, 9 and 11, several syndicated shows came up against some triple-overtime games during the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Many of the basketball and hockey games aired in late fringe on the East Coast and in access in the West.

For shows that, like Seinfeld and Friends, grab the young-male demographic, "[competing] sports events will have an impact," said Katz TV's Bill Carroll.

Still, many off-net series avoided ratings slumps. Frasier (5.0) was up 4% to top Seinfeld in the off-net derby. Drew Carey (3.9) jumped 3%, and Third Rock (3.5) was up 9%-its best outing in 15 weeks. The Wayans Bros. (2.0) climbed 11%.

And newsmagazines, which suffered some basketball blues the previous week, rebounded. Directly following NBA games in such markets as Los Angeles, Extra (3.5) and Access Hollywood (2.3) were up 30% and 35%, respectively, from last week's worst marks ever. Entertainment Tonight (5.6, up 4%) held tight to its magazine crown. Inside Edition (2.5) was stuck at its season low. National Enquirer was at 1.4, also a season low.