Savoring summer's spike


When Warner Bros. Syndication's Elimidate
last September, it was a typical slow mover, averaging an 0.6 Nielsen rating with teens and an 0.8 with adults 18-34. But, as of last month, that teen number had moved up all the way to a 2.5 and to a 1.4 with the young adult demo.

Maybe Elimidate
just got better, but probably its ratings boost had more to do with school vacation.

As high school and college kids take summer break, Elimidate
and virtually every other late-night dating show—Change of Heart, Fifth Wheel, Shipmates, Rendez-Vous—take a walk uptown in the Nielsens.

Of course, that probably means that those high-flying syndicated half-hours in late night will start declining next week. Last year, for example, from May to July 2001, Universal Domestic Television's Blind Date
scored a healthy 1.9 in adults 18-34; by September, it was down to a 1.4.

The fluctuations for Blind Date, though, don't exactly follow the pattern of other relationship shows, mainly because the show airs in a wider variety of time periods than most other shows of its kind. In July, it was the top relationship show in aggregate audience with a 1.9 and tied Elimidate
in some female demos. Its swings in audience are a little more level these days.

But, generally, summer months do shake the ratings race up. "With any kind of edgier show, even the topical talkers like Jennie Jones,
ratings go up with younger demos" during summer and winter breaks, said Bruce K. Rosenblum, executive vice president of media research for Warner Bros. Domestic distribution.

The ratings spike, he says, is a good argument for better measurement of out-of-home viewership: Although it's likely younger viewers watch the late-night relationship shows less when back at school, he thinks Nielsen misses millions of viewers in dorms and bars. "Our feeling for years is that we're all for any measurement service that would capture out-of-home viewers, particularly for our network, The WB, which is aimed at teens and young adults."