Off to a strong start


This season's first three syndicated shows turned in strong numbers, but whether The Wayne Brady Show,
The Caroline Rhea Show
and Celebrity Justice
can maintain the momentum is the next chapter. Competition is coming. The next two weeks will see the debut of eight more syndie shows, and the money is on Oprah protégé and best-selling author Dr. Phil McGraw to be the next star of daytime TV.

For the week, Brady
averaged a 2.7 rating/8 share, Rhea
earned a 1.4/4 and Celebrity Justice
a 1.1/3. Brady
has the best time periods—following either Live With Regis & Kelly
or General Hospital
in many big markets—but is cleared in the fewest markets, a strategic choice Buena Vista Television executives say they made to get Brady into better time slots based on his strength elsewhere. Brady
is cleared in 55% of the country and in 21 metered markets.

Buena Vista is "optimistic" about Brady's success, said Lloyd Kosamer, BVT's senior vice president of research. "We are really pleased with our ability to hold the lead-in and our ability to stack up against last October's time periods." (Syndicators are comparing their show's ratings this September with last October because of 9/11.)

BVT wants Brady
to replace The Rosie O'Donnell Show
. Warner Bros. Domestic Television, which distributed Rosie, considers Rhea
the heir apparent, although, in the top 10 markets, Rhea
is airing after midnight, to a much smaller audience. It is cleared in 52 metered markets and in much of the country.

Celebrity Justice
"has the most difficult time periods of all," says one analyst, mostly late fringe and late night. Warner Bros. hopes for a loyal following for its celebs-on-trial show.

Coming syndicated bows include this week's We the Jury
and The John Walsh Show
and next week's Beyond With James Van Praagh, Dr. Phil, The Rob Nelson Show, Pyramid
and the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Dr. Phil already has a strong following from his Tuesday appearances on Oprah, points out one analyst, who says Oprah's ratings are highest when Dr. Phil appears.