A long hot summer?


The first week out of the May sweeps didn't seem to agree with many of the top nationally syndicated programs, especially the newsmagazines.

Season and all-time series lows were commonplace in the national ratings for the week of May 29-June 4. Everything from talk shows to off-net sitcoms took Springer-like hits during the week, but newsmagazines fared worst.

Three of the top four syndicated newsmagazines hit all-time ratings lows for the week, including 11-year veteran Inside Edition. That show dropped 11% from the previous week to a 2.5 national rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Six-year-old Extra fell 13% to a 2.7 rating (its all-time low), and Access Hollywood, now in its fourth year, also hit its worst national number ever with a 26% drop to a 1.7 rating.

Even newcomer National Enquirer tied its first-season low with a 1.4.

Entertainment Tonight was the only newsmagazine to escape season or all-time low ratings-but even veteran ET took a hit. Entertainment Tonight fell 7% to a 5.4 rating. Industry analysts say NBA playoff coverage and the Memorial Day holiday didn't help the fact that it was the start of the summer season.

Fewer promotional spots and repeats combined to make the first week of June one to forget for many of the top Hollywood syndicators.

The top three game shows in syndication, all distributed by King World, hit their season lows as well. Ratings king Wheel of Fortune dipped 4% to a 9.2 rating-still the highest rating for any syndicated show. Jeopardy fell 6% to a 7.7, and Hollywood Squares dropped 8% to a 3.6.

Other season-low numbers included three top talk shows: Oprah, The Rosie O'Donnell Show and Live With Regis and Kathie Lee. Oprah (down 11%) scored a 5.6 rating, O'Donnell (down 9%) hit a 3.2, and Live (down 12%) was at a season-worst 3.0.