Coverage of the Iraqi prisoner scandal dominated the news cycle and daytime ratings. Which explains, in part, the tepid showing of syndicated TV shows in the first week of May.
Syndicated ratings for the week ended May 9, which included the first full week of the May sweeps, were flat to slightly down for most shows. That's due to numerous preemptions for live coverage of Rumsfeld's Armed Services Committee testimony about Abu Ghraib prison, which ran for several hours on May 7.
In addition, somewhat warmer weather kept viewing down Monday through Thursday, despite the usual sweeps-week increase in promotion.
For example, PUT (people using television) levels among women 25-54 fell an average of 3% in daytime and nearly 5% in early fringe.
Only off-net sitcoms were in the black, with increases for all top-five shows. Sony's Seinfeld continued in front, up 3% from the week before to a 6.0, followed by Warner Bros.' Friends, up 5% to a 5.8. King World's Everybody Loves Raymond was up 2% to a 5.4, Carsey-Werner-Mandabach's That '70s Show was up 3% to a 3.5, and Warner Bros.' Will & Grace was up 3% to a 3.3.
The end of the network run of Friends had little halo effect. Its syndicated run remained second to Seinfeld throughout the weeks leading up to the original's May 6 finale.
Elsewhere, Universal's Blind Date was the genre leader with the biggest week-to-week percentage increase, rising 7% to a 1.5 and topping late-night relationship strips for the 24th
time in 25 weeks. Warner Bros.' elimiDate, down 7% to a 1.3, was second.
In daytime, King World's Oprah was up 6% to a 6.9, with King World's second-place Dr. Phil
unchanged at 5.4. Both were up 10% year-to-year, the biggest such increase among major talkers.