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Prime-Time TV Rankings

Sweeps Programs Give Networks Memorable Sunday

February 16, 2000|BRIAN LOWRY and *--*

A barrage of sweeps-related programming caused viewing of the major networks to soar Sunday, while ABC rolled to its seventh-straight weekly victory behind the popularity of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

The four major networks totaled nearly 80 million viewers from 9 to 10 p.m. Sunday--almost 10 million more than the week before--as "Millionaire" and "The X-Files" held their own against the opening of "Sally Hemings: An American Scandal" (CBS' highest-rated movie opposite "Millionaire" thus far), with Carmen Ejogo, and "Homicide: The Movie," which helped provide NBC's best Sunday results since November. A key bonus of the "Millionaire" phenomenon has been the spillover to adjacent ABC shows, particularly "The Practice"--drawing several million more viewers coming out of the quiz-show hit--and "Dharma & Greg."

ABC also received a boost from its "Mary & Rhoda" reunion movie and the World Figure Skating Championships, which contributed to a 18% drop for NBC's sci-fi series "The Others" from its promising Feb. 5 debut.

Despite heightened sweeps competition--including Fox's Thursday telecast of "The Lost World: Jurassic Park"--both "ER" and "60 Minutes" met the challenge, each delivering its second-highest rating this season.

Cable Top 10

Here are Nielsen's Top 10 cable programs in prime time last week, also ranked by total viewers (in millions).

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Net- View- Program work ers 1. Wrestling (Mon., 10 p.m.) USA 7.61 2. wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) USA 6.70 3. The Sopranos HBO 5.34 4. NBA All-Star Saturday TNT 4.73 5. "Cruel Intentions" HBO 3.76 6. Wrestling (Sun., 7 p.m.) USA 3.71 7. Walker, Texas Ranger USA 3.66 8. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 3.33 9. Ripley's Believe It or Not TBS 3.16 10. Wild Thornberrys NICK 2.96

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Network Averages

Here is the number of viewers that each network averaged per hour of prime time, for last week and for the season.

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Last Season week to date ABC 14.98 million 13.90 NBC 13.52 12.88 CBS 12.95 12.88 FOX 9.71 9.24 UPN 4.36 3.93 WB 3.92 3.86

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Southland Viewing

Here are Nielsen's Top 10 prime-time programs in the Los Angeles area during the same week. The rankings are based on the number of households watching.

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Sta- House- Program tion holds 1. Friends KNBC 1,120,226 2. Millionaire (Sun.) KABC 1,026,001 3. ER KNBC 989,358 4. "Mary and Rhoda" KABC 984,124 5. Millionaire (Tue.) KABC 973,654 6. Frasier KNBC 900,368 7. Millionaire (Thur.) KABC 853,256 8. Jesse KNBC 811,379 9. The Practice KABC 774,736 10. 60 Minutes KCBS 764,266

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