Combining Christmas episodes with the movies "Home Alone" and "It's a Wonderful Life" stuffed NBC's stocking with a lopsided ratings win, based on results for last week issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.
"ER" and "Seinfeld" continued their giving ways, while a special "Mad About You," without commercial interruptions, delivered the Paul Reiser-Helen Hunt comedy's biggest audience since its season premiere in September.
ABC claimed second place behind its highest-rated "Monday Night Football" game in more than a year, pitting the Denver Broncos against the San Francisco 49ers. On the down side, the network's nightly news again finished third, and "Ellen" fumbled away nearly one-third of the audience watching "The Drew Carey Show." The standard-bearer in that dubious-achievement department is the ABC comedy "Hiller and Diller," which inspired more than 40% of those viewing "Home Improvement" to reach for the remote control on Dec. 16.
NBC's annual showing of "Home Alone" roughed up the other networks Friday, dropping ABC's "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" and Fox's "Millennium" to their lowest ratings for original episodes. Exclusive rights to "It's a Wonderful Life" also paid off, providing NBC a rare victory over CBS' Saturday lineup.