"Legend of the Seeker" improves time periods (updated)

More rating upswing news: The new syndicated action hour from Disney-ABC titled Legend of the Seeker improved time periods by 15 percent from October 2008, including an 80 percent jump in the ratings at WGN-TV here in Chicago, which aired the premiere Saturday at 4 p.m.

Among demos, Seeker sook and got big rating increases among men 25-54, women 18-49, and men 18-49.

This is the first syndicated first-run action hour to air in many years, with WGN and other stations airing Xena and Hercules and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the 1990’s. The syndicated scripted action show actually had its roots in the early 1970’s, when the FCC’s Prime Time Access Rule created opportunities for syndicators and filled time periods with (cheap) fare such as The Protectors (with Robert Vaughn), UFO, The Starlost (and you thought this season of Heroes was bad), and Space: 1999.

After first-run sitcoms dominated time periods in the mid to late 1980’s, it shifted back to action hours by the early ’90’s with the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation, whose production was budgeted at $1 million per episode.

Beginning Nov. 8, Legend of the Seeker airs every Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. on WGN.

Update: Disney-ABC has now made Seeker available for download via iTunes for $1.99 for standard definition and $2.99 for high definition. The program becomes the first first-run syndicated series to be made available on iTunes.

Seeker is also available on XBox Live marketplace.