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Prime-Time TV Rankings

'Noah's Ark' Takes NBC to Higher Ground

May 05, 1999|BRIAN LOWRY

Despite a righteous flood of negative reviews, "Noah's Ark" sailed away with huge ratings Sunday, staking NBC to a strong early lead in the May sweeps, based on results issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

Starring Jon Voight, "Noah" ranks as the fifth-most-watched prime-time telecast this season, behind the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, Barbara Walters' Monica Lewinsky interview and George Clooney's final "ER." Tune-in the first night (which dropped about 20% on Monday, in results that will be published next week) was just shy of the audience for NBC's fantasy epic "Merlin" a year ago.

NBC needed that divine intervention, since its Thursday roster looked surprisingly vulnerable last week, scoring the lowest rating for an all-original lineup that night in nearly five years--dating back to the first season of "ER" and "Friends." The low-brow competition included Fox's Robbie Knievel "Death Jump," which drew nearly 12 million viewers despite the jump itself being postponed by bad weather, and a two-hour wrestling event that pinned down decent ratings by UPN's standards.

NBC's "Providence" exhibited minor slippage by turning in a lowest-yet rating Friday, as did "Millennium" and "Love Boat" that night.

National Nielsen Viewership

Here are the rankings for national prime-time network television last week (April 26-May 2) as compiled by Nielsen Media Research. They are based on the average number of people who watched a program from start to finish. Nielsen estimates that there are 256.6 million potential U.S. viewers age 2 and older. Viewership is listed here in millions.

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