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TELEVISION & RADIO

NBC, Fox battle for 18-49 set

May 07, 2003|Brian Lowry

The May rating sweeps are breaking down into a two-tiered race, with little suspense about CBS' status as the most-watched network but a fiercer battle in the age 18-49 demographic most closely monitored by advertisers, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

By the second measure, NBC and Fox -- the latter buoyed by "American Idol" -- are neck-and-neck for first place, while CBS (which generally attracts an older audience) and ABC tied for third last week and are also deadlocked for the season.

In total viewership, Disney-owned ABC has settled for fourth place 11 of the last 12 weeks (the other featured the Academy Awards telecast) and now leads Fox by just 240,000 viewers for the season. While there's not enough time to make up that deficit before the 2002-03 campaign officially ends May 21, the "American Idol" finale could make things uncomfortably close -- especially considering that ABC's average was boosted by the Super Bowl in January.

CBS' three-hour Sunday movie biography, "Lucy," about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, held its own against "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and the season finale of "Alias," which enjoyed a better-than-usual lead-in audience thanks to a "Home Improvement" special.

ABC's "The Bachelor" has also continued a slow if steady build, last week edging NBC's "The West Wing" and the average for Fox's tandem of "Bernie Mac" (which, following "Idol," posted its biggest audience yet) and "Wanda at Large."

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Here are the rankings for national prime-time network television last week (April 28-May 4) 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 there are 272.04 million potential viewers in the U.S. age 2 and older. Viewership is listed in millions.

*--* 1 CSI CBS 22.67 2 American Idol (Tue.) FOX 20.37 3 American Idol (Wed.) FOX 20.16 4 ER NBC 19.55 5 Friends NBC 19.03

6 Law & Order NBC 18.09 7 Everybody Loves Raymond CBS 17.92 8 Survivor: Amazon CBS 17.65 9 CSI: Miami CBS 17.18 Friends (8:30 p.m.) NBC 17.18

11 Will & Grace NBC 17.14 12 Law & Order: Criminal Intent (10 p.m.) NBC 14.46 13 Still Standing CBS 14.41 14 Law & Order: Criminal Intent NBC 14.29 15 Law & Order: SVU NBC 13.97

16 Bernie Mac FOX 13.77 17 JAG CBS 13.63 18 The Bachelor ABC 13.28 19 The West Wing NBC 13.18 20 Judging Amy CBS 13.15

21 "Lucy" CBS 12.91 22 Third Watch NBC 12.76 23 Without a Trace CBS 12.64 24 The Simpsons (8:30 p.m.) FOX 12.45 25 Yes, Dear CBS 12.42

26 Fear Factor NBC 12.21 27 Malcolm in the Middle FOX 12.11 28 The Guardian CBS 12.05 24 FOX 12.05 30 60 Minutes CBS 11.88

31 King of Queens CBS 11.72 32 The Simpsons FOX 11.59 33 NYPD Blue ABC 11.42 34 "Tim Allen Presents" ABC 11.33 35 Extreme Makeover (Wed.) ABC 11.32

36 Wanda at Large FOX 11.27 37 Frasier NBC 11.08 38 Alias ABC 10.10 39 Crossing Jordan NBC 10.09 40 America's Most Talented Kid NBC 10.07

41 Funniest Home Videos (9 p.m.) ABC 9.93 42 Law & Order: SVU (Sat.) NBC 9.91 43 20/20 (Fri.) ABC 9.41 44 60 Minutes II CBS 9.32 45 "Oliver Beene" FOX 9.25

46 Funniest Home Videos (8 p.m.) ABC 9.22 47 American Dreams NBC 9.12 48 "ABC 50th Anniversary Bloopers" ABC 9.10 49 Watching Ellie NBC 8.68 Dateline NBC (Tue.) NBC 8.68

51 The District CBS 8.51 52 According to Jim (9 p.m.) ABC 8.34 53 George Lopez ABC 8.33 54 CSI: Miami CBS 8.32 55 My Wife and Kids ABC 8.31

56 48 Hours Investigates CBS 8.25 57 8 Simple Rules ABC 8.23 58 "The Price Is Right: Million 4" CBS 8.18 59 Hack CBS 7.94 60 According to Jim ABC 7.85

61 Mr. Personality FOX 7.68 62 Boston Public FOX 7.55 Dateline NBC (Sun.) NBC 7.55 64 Star Search (Wed.) CBS 7.47 65 King of the Hill FOX 7.32

66 America's Most Wanted FOX 7.26 67 Dateline NBC (Wed.) NBC 7.20 68 "ESPN's Blunderful World of Sports" ABC 7.19 69 Primetime Thursday ABC 7.15 70 Star Search CBS 7.14

71 "Charlie's Angels" ABC 7.00 72 The Agency CBS 6.56 73 Less Than Perfect ABC 6.54 74 Smallville WB 6.50 75 7th Heaven WB 6.47

76 "Gladiator" ABC 6.44 77 Law & Order (Sat.) NBC 6.37 78 Cops (8:30 p.m.) FOX 6.22 79 Hunter NBC 5.98 80 "Big Momma's House" FOX 5.88

81 My Wife and Kids (Tue.) ABC 5.75 82 "NBC's Funniest Outtakes 2" NBC 5.49 83 Cops FOX 5.41 84 King of the Hill (7 p.m.) FOX 5.17 85 Charmed WB 4.99

86 Gilmore Girls WB 4.83 87 "Cops: Caught Red-Handed" FOX 4.81 88 WWE Smackdown! UPN 4.80 89 Everwood WB 4.49 90 Enterprise UPN 4.08

91 Half and Half UPN 4.06 92 Girlfriends UPN 4.05 93 Angel WB 4.04 94 One on One UPN 3.87 95 Reba WB 3.85

96 Dawson's Creek WB 3.80 97 Jamie Kennedy Experiment WB 3.62 98 Buffy the Vampire Slayer UPN 3.60 99 "Brad Gluckman" WB 3.18 100 The Parkers UPN 3.15

101 Grounded for Life WB 2.97 102 Gilmore Girls: Beginnings WB 2.66 103 Charmed (9 p.m.) WB 2.62 104 What I Like About You WB 2.60 105 The Twilight Zone UPN 2.52

106 Greetings From Tucson WB 2.26 107 Platinum UPN 2.24

*--*

Network averages

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

*--* Network Last week Season to date CBS 11.80 12.50

NBC 11.41 11.66

FOX 9.74 9.82

ABC 8.66 10.04

WB 4.10 4.07

UPN 3.35 3.53

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