Relatively Big 'Deal'

Game show leads rookie class
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It's yet to hit the 2.0 mark but early in this syndication season, NBC Universal's Deal or No Deal looks like the MVP of this year's class. Since the show's premiere on Sept. 8, Deal or No Deal has grown 26% in gross average audience (GAA) ratings and 19% in average audience (AA) ratings to a 2.4 and a 1.9 live-plus-same-day average household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Meanwhile, Deal's total audience has been growing consistently since its debut, according to Nielsen, with more than 50 million people sampling the program thus far. Stations would, of course, like to see the show's ratings move higher, but they have been happy with the show's production since day one.

“The one overall acknowledgement or understanding about Deal is that everyone is pleased with the way the show looks,” says Bill Carroll, VP of programming for Katz Television Group Programming. “Stations are very happy with the show that was delivered.”

On the NBC-owned stations, the show's launch group, Deal has improved its time periods by an average of 29% compared to last October. On WNBC New York at 4 p.m., Deal is up 80% over last October. On KNBC Los Angeles, the show has improved ratings 100% at 3 p.m. On WMAQ Chicago at noon, Deal is up 50% versus last year. On WCAU Philadelphia at noon, the show is up 75%. On KXAS Dallas at 2 p.m., it's up 71%. And on KNTV San Francisco, it's up 33%.

While Carroll also wants to see Deal's ratings continue to improve, which is likely with the end of daylight saving time and the conclusion of the elections, “If this is the number come January, that would allow them to renew the show.”

Legend Off to Decent Start

Disney-ABC's new first-run weekly hour, Legend of the Seeker, turned in respectable premiere ratings, improving its time periods by an average of 15% compared to the prior month. Seeker scored a 1.5 rating/3 share primary-run average among 54 metered markets.

The show faced strong competition on Nov. 1 from a dramatic college football game in which No. 7-ranked Texas Tech beat cross-state rival and top-ranked University of Texas.

In top markets, Seeker improved time periods by 14% on Tribune-owned KPIX New York, 80% on Tribune's WGN Chicago, 117% on Hearst-Argyle-owned WCVB Boston, 30% on Gannett-owned WATL Atlanta, 67% on Tribune-owned WDCW Washington, D.C., and 33% on Tribune's KIAH Houston.

The show's performance improved 21% from Saturday to Sunday, when there was no football game, jumping to a 1.7/3 from a 1.4/3.

Ellen Up In Tough Fall for Talk

Warner Bros.' Ellen DeGeneres was the only talk show to notch year-to-year gains in the week ending Oct. 26, jumping 5% to a 2.2. Meanwhile, the rest of the pack is down—way down.

CBS Television Distribution's The Oprah Winfrey Show is down 14% this year compared to last, while her spin-off, Dr. Phil, has lost a stunning 24%. Disney-ABC's Live With Regis and Kelly has dropped 19%, and CTD's Rachael Ray, in season three, has fallen 15%. NBC Universal's Maury is down 11%, while Jerry Springer has declined 29% and Warner Bros.' Tyra Banks has decreased 18%. The two sophomore talkers, NBCU's Steve Wilkos and Twentieth's The Morning Show, are down 10% and 11%, respectively. And in last place, NBCU's Martha Stewart has fallen 36% this year compared to last.