War coverage during the week ending March 23 hit syndicated shows two ways:
It pre-empted them and it drove viewers to cable news outlets.
After war broke out Wednesday, March 19, the audiences for cable news networks
shot up: 208 percent for Cable News Network, 167 percent for MSNBC and 137 percent for the
most-watched 24-hour cable news outlet, Fox News Channel.
Dating shows took some of the hardest blows because their late-night
clearances meant that they weren't pre-empted, although fewer viewers still turned out
to watch them.
Nielsen Media Research stops counting a show's ratings if it loses more than 10 percent of
its coverage due to pre-emptions.
Some shows that week had full five-day ratings, while for others, Nielsen only
counted three or four days.
Universal Television's Blind Date, with a five-day average, topped the field but
was down 25 percent to a 1.5. Warner Bros.' Elimidate, for which Nielsen
also counted all five days, fell 19 percent to a new season low of 1.3.
Universal's Fifth Wheel, with a four-day average, fell 15 percent to a
1.1. Warner Bros.' Change of Heart, with a five-day average, fell 17
percent to 1.0, and Sony Pictures Television's Shipmates, with a four-day average, sank 13
percent to a 0.7.
The top-five off-network sitcoms also had double-digit declines.
Warner Bros.' Friends regained the lead over Sony's Seinfeld
despite falling 17 percent to a 5.9. Seinfeld was down 19 percent to a
5.8. Both shows had five-day averages.
King World Productions' Everybody Loves Raymond, with a four-day average, was
down 17 percent to a 5.2. Warner Bros.' Will & Grace, with a five-day
average, was down 12 percent to 3.6, and Carsey-Werner-Mandabach's That 70s
Show, with a four-day average, fell 10 percent to 3.5.
Among the talk strips, King World's Oprah, with a three-day average,
continued to lead the pack with a 5.9, down 5 percent.
Oprah was followed by King World's Dr. Phil, down 11 percent to a 4.7.
Dr. Phil also had a three-day average.
The biggest decline among talkers was NBC Enterprises' The John Walsh
Show, which fell 28 percent to a 1.3 with a three-day average.