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Prime-Time TV Rankings

Bada-Bing! Biggest Audience Joins 'Sopranos' Club

March 07, 2001|BRIAN LOWRY

"The Sopranos" exhibited the kind of ratings firepower seldom seen on cable television with its third-season premiere Sunday, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

With an estimated 11.3 million viewers, the Home Box Office drama achieved its highest ranking yet and attracted a bigger audience than NBC's opening installment of the two-part Kennedy family saga "The Women of Camelot," despite the fact the pay channel is available in less than 30% of U.S. homes.

A competing made-for-TV movie, "Amy and Isabelle," with Elisabeth Shue, weathered that assault, as the "Oprah Winfrey Presents" banner continues to spin ratings gold for ABC. Fox also got off to a respectable start with the premiere of its "The X-Files" spinoff, "The Lone Gunmen," though viewing of the show dropped from the first to the second half-hour.

CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" delivered its biggest audience yet, as ratings for that show and "Survivor" surged opposite reruns of NBC's Thursday comedies. The new crime series "Big Apple," however, lost almost half "CSI's" lead-in against an original "ER."

Another first-year CBS drama, "Kate Brasher," fell about 12% off its premiere Saturday but still posted solid numbers, while NBC's XFL football league continues to lose ground and was by far the lowest-rated major network telecast last week.

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 12.62 million 13.01 CBS 12.58 12.67 NBC 11.96 12.14 FOX 10.48 10.04 WB 3.89 3.94 UPN 3.57 3.91

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