Newsmagazines Fare Well in Feb. Sweeps

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Syndicated magazine shows held up best against the Winter Olympics during the February sweeps, despite having their Academy Awards coverage pushed outside the critical ratings measurement period this year.

According to Nielsen results released for the week ended March 5, Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight earned its 62nd consecutive sweep win with an average 5.5 rating from Feb. 2 to March 1. The 4% drop from 5.7 in February 2005 can primarily be attributed to the Olympics competition from Feb.10-26 and the Oscars coming late March 5.

King World’s Inside Edition dropped 3% to 3.7 from 3.8, while Paramount’s The Insider gained 3% from 2.9 to 3.0 to tie its highest sweeps ratings since the show’s 2004 debut.

NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood held up well in light of preemptions on the NBC stations in top markets, decreasing only 7% from 2.7 to 2.5. Warner Bros.’ Extra benefited from the massive preemptions it faced, rising 4% from 2.3 to 2.4.

Unlike the other magazine shows, the Olympics were factored out of Extra’s sweeps tabulations, since it lost more than 10% of its national coverage.

Older-skewing game shows didn’t hold up as well.

Airing in major markets against Olympics competition in access, King World’s top-rated syndicated show Wheel of Fortune fell 10% from 9.9 to 8.8; companion Jeopardy! slipped 13% to 7.2 from 8.3; Buena Vista TV’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was off 11% from 3.7 to 3.3; and Tribune Entertainment’s Family Feud, with the fewest access clearances among the game shows, held even at a 2.2.

Early-fringe shows in competition with the Olympics were also impacted, with King World’s top-rated Oprah Winfrey down 15% to 7.2 from 8.5 last year.

It was the second-biggest percentage drop of all talk shows, after Paramount’s daytime entry Montel, off 19% to 2.1 from 2.6.

Paramount’s Dr. Phil, with major market early-fringe clearances, dipped 8% to 5.5 from 6.0. The only talk show to post improvement over last February was Warner Bros.’ Ellen, which, despite schedule shifts on NBC stations from the Olympics, rose 8% from 2.4 to 2.6.

Among the talk rookies, Warner Bros.’ Tyra, airing primarily on UPN and Fox affiliates, earned a 1.8 during the sweeps, up 64% from its 1.1 debut in September. In November, it averaged a 1.7.

NBC U’s Martha, which started off strong in September with a 2.0 rating due to curiosity over Martha Stewart’s prison stay and then-upcoming prime time version of The Apprentice, fell 15% in February to 1.7.

Some of its early-fringe clearances were impacted by the Olympics. Martha averaged a 1.8 in November.

In court, Paramount’s top two court shows felt the competition of early fringe Olympics coverage. Judge Judy fell 9% this February from 5.4 to 4.9, while Judge Joe Brown was down 14% from 3.7 to 3.2.

Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, the one court show to rise (up 7% from 2.8 to 3.0), airs primarily in daytime slots.

Of the remaining late-night dating shows, NBC U’s Blind Date slid 15% to 1.1 from 1.3, while Warner Bros.’ Elimidate dropped 17% to 1.0 from 1.2.

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