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TELEVISION & RADIO

NBC tops CBS; ABC shows new signs of life

November 20, 2002|Brian Lowry

The eclectic roster of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Fear Factor," "Dateline NBC" and "Ed" all recorded season-high ratings to help NBC post its first overall ratings victory this fall and extend its winning streak in young-adult demographics, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

NBC also nabbed its biggest Saturday audience since March with a movie based on the series "Hunter," while CBS' once-formidable Sunday movie continues to struggle, as the second part of "Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story" ran fourth in its slot.

CBS has finished second in the weekly standings twice this season, the other time coming when Fox carried the World Series.

ABC, meanwhile, again benefited from combining "The Bachelor" (which out-rated "The West Wing" for the second straight week) with a pop-culture interview, in this case Jennifer Lopez on "Primetime." The network ranked second among adults age 18 to 49 for the first time this season, as "Monday Night Football" drew its biggest audience since September 2001.

Fox's "24" has cooled considerably from its premiere, hurt in part by last week's migration to "Frasier's" brush-with-death story line. Another critically acclaimed show, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," closed its season Sunday, with HBO channels amassing 4.7 million viewers in that half-hour -- solid for the pay service but still a 55% drop from tune-in during "The Sopranos."

-- Brian Lowry

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