A lot of TV viewers have been spending more time with their Friends, according to latest off-network ratings data from Nielsen Media Research.
The sitcom averaged a season-high 6.6 household rating in the week ended March 26, up 43 percent from the previous period--the biggest leap of any show in syndication for the week--due to a weekend marathon of the show on cable network TBS.
Usual off-network sitcom leader Everybody Loves Raymond slipped to No. 2 with a 6.1, flat for the week. Seinfeld (5.6) fell by 3 percent, and That '70s Show (4.0) jumped 8 percent.
Elsewhere in syndication, the top two talkers rebounded after having contended with pre-emptions and competition related to CBS's coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament the previous week, resulting in season-low ratings. The Oprah Winfrey Show (6.6) spiked by 14 percent, and Dr. Phil (5.1) increased by 11 percent.
Wheel of Fortune maintained its top spot overall in the syndication rankings, rising 3 percent to a 9.6. (The figure represents only a three-day average due to basketball-related pre-emptions.) Jeopardy! (7.1) also was up 3 percent.
Meanwhile, the heavily pre-empted Entertainment Tonight--it lost 26 of the leading "metered" markets (including the top five), more than any other syndicated show--was off only 2 percent for the week, averaging a 4.8.
Court show Judge Judy (5.0) was up 4 percent compared with the previous week, while Judge Joe Brown (3.1) was flat.
Among the rookies, The Tyra Banks Show (flat) and Martha (down 6 percent) tied at a 1.7, while court show Judge Alex (2.4) was up 4 percent.