Syndie Sitcoms See Spike

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All of the top off-net sitcoms gained ground in the ratings in the week ending Oct. 26, helped by the ending of the Major League Baseball playoffs. But while they were all up week to week, every sitcom except Carsey-Werner’s That ’70s Show was down from last year.

Sony’s Seinfeld was the highest-rated off-net sitcom for the first time this season, jumping 14% to a 5.8 rating, but dropping 11% from last year at this time. Right behind it were Warner Bros.’ Friends and King World’s Everybody Loves Raymond, with each show averaging 5.7.

Friends was up 6% for the week but down 16% year to year, while Raymond was up 8% and off 7% from last year. Warner Bros.’ sophomore Will & Grace was up 3% to 3.7 and down 8% from last year, while fellow sophomore That ’70s Show gained 6% to a fifth place 3.3, moving up 3% from last year.

Buena Vista’s Home Improvement surged 19% to 3.1, but was still down 6% from last year. Twentieth’s King of the Hill added 4% to 2.8 but lost 7% from last year.

Among the new off-net strips, Sony’s King of Queens was up 8% to 2.6. Paramount’s Becker gained 11% to 2.0 and Paramount’s The Parkers soared 27% to 1.4.

In the rookie race, Warner Bros.’ The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Warner Bros.’ The Sharon Osbourne Show remain deadlocked as the highest rated new first-run strips for the second week, each with a 1.4, unchanged from the previous week. For the first two days of the November sweep, Oct. 30 and 31, Ellen scored a 2.4 rating/7 share in the metered markets, up 20% from its stations year-ago time period average. Sharon earned a 1.4/4 in the metered markets, even with year-ago time periods.

Wayne Brady was up 22% to a 1.1, and started the sweep with a 1.8/6, even with its stations’ November 2002 time periods. King World’s Living it Up! With Ali & Jack was unchanged at 1.0, and averaged a 1.4/5 at the beginning of the sweep, down 30% from its stations’ year-ago time periods. NBC Enterprises’ Starting Over was down 10% nationally to a 0.9, with a 1.3/4 early sweep metered-market average, off 7% from year-ago time periods.

The weekly movie review shows also perked up despite having to contend with the sixth and final World Series game on Saturday, Oct. 25. Both Buena Vista’s Ebert & Roeper and Paramount’s Hot Ticket were up 17%, averaging a 2.1 and 1.4, respectively.

Elsewhere, the category leaders held up well. Paramount’s Entertainment Tonight, the only magazine to improve this week, led the mags with a 5.4, up 2%.

King World’s Wheel of Fortune topped the games with an 8.8, up 5%. Universal’s Blind Date was the number-one relationship show at 1.6, up 7%. King World’s Oprah led the talk shows, despite dropping 3% week to week to 6.5. And Paramount’s Judge Judy was best in court at 4.9, up 2%.

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