O.J. TRIAL SCORES FOR COURT TV, CNN

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Last week's initial TV coverage of the O.J. Simpson murder trial produced exponential ratings gains for CNN and Court TV but mixed results for ABC, CBS and NBC.

Preliminary Nielsen Media Research numbers show CNN's coverage area ratings during its noon to 8 p.m. (ET) daily trial coverage shot up 571% to a 4.7 average for the first three days of the proceedings. CNN normally averages a 0.7 rating during that period.

CNN's 24-hour average for the three days jumped 217% to a 1.9 rating, compared with a normal average of 0.6. And CNN scaled as high as a 6.2 during peak viewing periods of the trial.

"It's provided exposure for some of our shows that don't normally see these kinds of ratings," a CNN spokesman said, noting the news network's Jan. 24 "Moneyline" edition had a 3.2 rating, an eightfold gain over its normal rating.

Court TV doesn't release rating information on specific trials, but cable industry sources say Court TV's 24-hour coverage area rating for Jan. 23 soared 1,200% to a 1.3, compared with the 0.1 it averaged in December. Court TV's ratings peaked Jan. 23 with a 4.8 between 5:45 p.m. and 6 p.m.

While national daytime TV ratings for ABC, CBS and NBC won't be available until this week, preliminary data from Nielsen's metered markets indicate the Big 3 collectively appear to be performing below their 1994-95 season daytime averages.

However it's measured, the trial coverage is doing wonders for the Court TV brand, giving it exposure to consumer and business audiences the channel wouldn't normally get.

Court TV became the story of the day on Tuesday, overshadowing the defendant himself, when it inadvertently showed an alternate juror on TV and brought it to the attention of a concerned Judge Lance Ito.

The power of the Court TV brand could be witnessed at last week's National Association of Television Program Executives conference in Las Vegas. New Line Television's booth attracted some of the biggest crowds on the convention floor, rivaling the appearance of supermodel Vendela at syndicator Raycom Sports' booth.

The attraction: New Line, which syndicates "Court TV: Inside America's Courts," had a TV monitor showing live trial coverage.

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