Hit serials show slump in ratings in US

NEW YORK (US): According to the latest Nielsen Media Research, the Emmy-winning political drama, The West Wing has shown a sharp decline in the popularity charts in the US.

The West Wing ratings are down 23 per cent compared to the first three episodes last year, ER is down 15 per cent and after a fast start with Niles and Daphne's wedding, Frasier has sunk and Providence is off 19 percent, states report by AP television writer David Bauder.

"A network always needs to be concerned about the health of their returning series, simply because they are the pillars of their schedule," Initiative Media television analyst Stacey Lynn Koerner is quoted as saying in the report. "It's a lot easier to replace a new show that is not living up to expectations," he added.

The report further reveals that ABC is still trying to recover from a ratings free fall after established hits like The Drew Carey Show and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire which swiftly lost favor last year. Listing out the probable reasons for a show like The West Wing going down the popularity chart includes viewer exhaustion with politics and critics who claim that its quality has slipped. NBC is facing tougher competition in the time slot, particularly for young viewers, with ABC's The Bachelor and the WB's Birds of Prey , saysthe report.

Even though The West Wing hit Nielsen's top 10 last week, The Bachelor won among viewers age 18 to 49. "Given the tremendous competition for young adults in that hour, this is probably a realistic place for the show to be," NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker is quoted as saying in the report.

The report also mentions some popular NBC shows which have started showing their age, namely Frasier which is in its tenth season and ER in its ninth. Providence, which was on the fence for renewal before this season, began in January 1999.

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