Movies and newsmagazines helped place CBS atop the ratings heap last week, while NBC is discovering what life is like after Michael Jordan, based on results issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.
NBC caught a break when the New York Knicks--and millions of potential New York viewers--made it into the NBA championship series, which begins tonight; still, ratings for last week's semifinal contests between the Knicks and Indiana Pacers were down more than 25% compared to the corresponding basketball games a year ago, when those same Pacers played the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Although tune-in was significantly lower, viewing of hockey's Stanley Cup final opener actually improved slightly from last year.
Newsmagazines like "60 Minutes" and "20/20" continue to provide reliable alternatives to summer reruns, while CBS' "Touched by an Angel" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" fared better than repeats of hits on the other networks. "Raymond," for example, dropped only about 20% from its weekly audience during the recently ended TV season; by contrast, NBC's "Friends" delivered only about half its average.
Cable Top 10
Here are Nielsen's top 10 cable programs in prime time last week, also ranked by total viewers (in millions).
Program Network Viewers 1. Wrestling (Mon., 10 p.m.) USA 7.73 2. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) USA 7.06 3. MTV Movie Awards MTV 6.55 4. "Silent Predators" TBS 5.76 5. Wrestling (Sun., 7 p.m.) USA 5.23 6. "The Negotiator" HBO 4.86 7. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 4.28 8. "Dr. Dolittle" (Tue.) HBO 4.20 9. "Dr. Dolittle" (Sun.) HBO 4.16 10. Wrestling (Thurs., 9 p.m.) TBS 3.77