In Focus

Bright Light, Bad Ratings

The first week of daylight-saving time combined with the NCAA basketball final to send viewing levels for access and early-fringe syndicated shows plummeting during the week ended April 10, according to the Nielsen national barter rankings used by advertisers.

HUT (households using television) levels dropped 2.829 million homes from the previous week, a 7% decline that is typical when the clocks spring ahead. Traditionally, those viewers return when the clocks fall back.

The college hoops tourney championship game on April 4 also proved to be a ratings drag, especially for afternoon and early-evening shows.

Among the top off-net sitcoms, both Everyone Loves Raymond and Friends hit season lows. Raymond was down 13% from the prior week to a 5.9 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, but jumped 18% from the year-ago week, thanks to its access run this season on TBS. Friends (4.9) dipped 6% week-to-week and 9% year-to-year. Seinfeld was down 2% compared with the prior week and year, landing at a 5.5.

Game and magazine shows also suffered, as did daytime shows, but the decline was not as dramatic for them.

Daytime queen Oprah Winfrey took the biggest hit, with her show in reruns two of the days, and coming off the previous week's highly rated double whammy of Lisa Marie Presley appearing alone one day and with her mom, Priscilla, the following day. Oprah dropped 12% to a 6.4. Nevertheless, it was up by double digits year-to-year.