Geraldo's Grand Opening - Broadcasting & Cable

Geraldo's Grand Opening

At Large leads rookies; Cristina's strong, too
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The national rollout of Twentieth Television's Geraldo at Large was the top-performing syndicated
rookie, according to the national household ratings for the week ended Sept.
17. Geraldo averaged a 1.6 rating for the
first week of the season, despite clearances in just 75% of the country, mainly
in late-fringe time periods.

“It's taken awhile to find an audience, but sampling tends to be a
bit slower than you used to have in the old days,” says Twentieth
President/COO Bob Cook. He notes that the 1.6 projects to a 2.0 if the show had
household penetration of 90%, which he expects by the end of the season.

Twentieth also had the No. 2 rookie for that week, as
Cristina's Court averaged a 1.3 rating.
Cook says that, despite there being nine court shows in syndication, the genre
hasn't yet peaked.

“Every time we think that, the numbers just keep going,” he says.
“It's like Wheel of Fortune and
Jeopardy!. Every year, they say this is
their last year, and they just keep going. Diminishing returns will come for
court, but not yet.”

Rolling out Geraldo (a late
replacement for A Current Affair last
season) and launching Cristina was even more
difficult, with Twentieth executives also busy launching MyNetwork TV
(MNT).

Cook says having Fox as a parent cuts both ways. “We spend a lot of
time on [MNT], but we also get a lot of help from Fox News Channel in promoting
Geraldo,” he says. “But it's lot of
work right now.”

Sony Pictures Television's Judge Maria
Lopez
was the third-highest-rated rookie of the week ended Sept. 17
with a 1.0 average, while Sony's new Greg
Behrendt
talker averaged just an 0.9 in its first four days after
debuting Sept. 12. Sony executives declined to comment on the early numbers.

Ratings for Telepictures' Dr. Keith
Ablow
were not available at press time. They are being reprocessed
by Nielsen.

In off-net rookie strips, sitcom Still
Standing
debuted to a 1.3 average, while One
on One
averaged an 0.9. CSI:
Miami
averaged a 4.2 rating in its first weekend of syndication.

Among returning talk shows, sophomore Tyra
Banks
logged the biggest year-over-year increase, improving 36% over
its debut to a 1.5. Fellow second-year talker Martha averaged a 1.3 for the week, off 35% from its
debut last year.

The newsmagazines stayed hot, with Access
Hollywood
up 24% on the year to a 2.6 average and
Entertainment Tonight recording its highest
number in 24 weeks at a 5.1.

In court, Judge Judy led the way as
usual with a 4.4. Wheel of Fortune topped
the game-show category with a 7.3, while Family
Feud
's first week with new host John O'Hurley averaged a 1.7.

Although national numbers for the debut week of rookies
Rachael Ray and Megan Mullally won't be available until this week,
Rachael averaged a 2.6 rating/9 share
weighted-meter-market average for its first week, which began Sept. 18.

The Food Network veteran's program, from King World and Oprah
Winfrey's Harpo Productions, enjoyed the best first week of any show since
Dr. Phil in 2002. It bested its average
lead-in of 2.3/8 by 13% and was a 24% improvement over its year-ago time-period
average of 2.1/7.

NBC Universal's Megan got off to a
slow start with a 1.0/3 weighted-meter-market average. That marked a 17%
decline from its average lead-in of 1.2/4 and was down 29% from its year-ago
time- period average of 1.4/5.

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