With NBC's dose of staged reality, "Fear Factor," out of the picture, ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" grabbed the top spots for the week, but the good news for ABC was tempered by viewer attrition on a promising new variety series, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.
ABC won the week in total viewers, boosted by three outings of the Regis Philbin-hosted game show. But "The Wayne Brady Show," a comedy-variety series starring improv performer Brady, lost more than 2 million viewers in its second week out. Last week, in its premiere, "The Wayne Brady Show" drew 11 million viewers and finished in the top 10.
Another summer tryout, Fox's "Murder in a Small Town X," continued to slide, seeing its audience dwindle to under 4 million viewers.
Meanwhile, NBC extended its streak as the most popular network among 18-to-49-year-old viewers to 18 consecutive weeks.
On the cable front, back-to-back episodes of the drama "Six Feet Under" scored big for HBO, which aired the episodes as a season-finale package, drawing an average 6.9 million viewers, tops among cable broadcasts for the week. HBO's hit "The Sopranos" drew an average 5.2 million viewers for its first season finale, in 1999.
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Here is the number of viewers (in millions) that each network averaged per hour of prime time, for last week and for the season.
Last Season Network week To date CBS 7.65 11.32 ABC 7.79 11.16 NBC 7.34 10.69 FOX 5.42 8.51 UPN 3.19 3.58 WB 2.80 3.41