FRONTED: UPN Bows Big Behind 'Voyager'

HOLLYWOOD (Variety 1/17/95) - In its maiden ratings mission, the new United Paramount Network's "Star Trek Voyager" boldly followed in the steps of its predecessors.

"Voyager," which UPN used to propel its launch Monday, averaged a 14.7 rating, 20 share from 8-10 p.m. in 31 of the 32 Nielsen-metered markets, more than tripling the ratings average of those same stations over the past four weeks.

Since nearly 15% of UPN's lineup consists of secondary affiliates, which delay the weblet's programming until the weekends, the final national number for "Voyager" -- expected to be considerably lower -- won't be issued until Tuesday.

Still, Lucie Salhany, president and CEO of UPN, said "Voyager" performed beyond her expectations and stands a "good shot" of finishing first when it settles into its regular 8-9 p.m. Monday slot.

Appearing on an assortment of former independent stations, UPN finished first in 14 of the 31 overnight markets.

"Voyager" improved on the November time period averages of the weblet's affiliates by 150% (20 vs. 8 share), increased lead-ins by an average of 10 shares and maintained a 20 share in every quarter-hour.

By comparison, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" averaged a slightly higher 17.5/25 in 28 overnight markets when it bowed in syndication two years ago; however, the station lineup for "Deep Space" was stronger than that of UPN, and it wasn't facing stiff competition from a special two-hour version of Fox's popular "Melrose Place."

Fox didn't blink against its stellar competition, scoring its best-ever national Monday rating from 8-10 p.m. with "Melrose Place" (see related story).

"Voyager," meanwhile, achieved some astronomical numbers in certain West Coast markets.

Sacramento-Stockton gave the show its highest rating, a 25.0/34, which compares to a 2.9/4 in the period last February. It achieved a 21.4/30 in Portland and a 21.1/30 in Seattle-Tacoma.

Locally, the program soared to a first-place 20.7 rating on KCOP -- 30% higher than KTTV's 15.9 with "Melrose Place." It also finished 2% ahead of the 20.3 captured by "Deep Space" in its debut.

Numbers were more down-to-Earth elsewhere:

WWOR New York collected a third-place 11.9/16 behind "Melrose" and CBS sitcoms, but beat a popular two-hour rerun of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on WB Network affiliate WPIX (which finished last).

WPWR Chicago generated a first-place 13.6/19. Philadelphia pulled an 11.4/15 and San Francisco wound up with a 17.4/24 (up from an anemic 2.0/3 average in the slot over the past four weeks).

The only metered market where "Voyager" failed to make an appearance Monday was Hartford, which has no UPN affiliate.

In St. Louis, appearing on a delayed basis, "Voyager" grabbed a 15.0/24 from 9:30-11:30 p.m. on a secondary Fox affiliate.

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By Jim Benson - Reuter/Variety
brown@ftms.com
Last modified on January 22, 1995