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TELEVISION & RADIO

NBC's 'Contender' starts slow in round one

March 09, 2005|Scott Collins

NBC's long-awaited boxing reality series, "The Contender," was no ratings champ Monday.

The series, from "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett and featuring Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard overseeing a contest among young fighters, roped in 8.1 million viewers during a 90-minute preview, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's far below NBC's average performance since Jan. 3 with the 10 p.m. crime drama "Medium" (15.1 million). CBS ranked No. 1 in the 9:30-to-11 p.m. time slot with "Two and a Half Men" (17.4 million) and "CSI: Miami" (21.7 million).

"Contender" packed more punch in the young-adult demographic categories closely watched by advertisers.

The program was No. 1 among men ages 18 to 34, and at 9:30 p.m. it beat an ABC reality special, "Boss Swap," among viewers ages 18 to 49. "Contender" also edged out ABC's ongoing reality series "Supernanny" at 10 p.m., although "CSI: Miami" was the top choice for viewers in that age group.

NBC spokesman Tom Bierbaum said "Contender" performed as well as NBC expected. "This is a pretty good, strong number for any show against this competition," he said.

The network will air another "Contender" preview at 10 p.m. Thursday before the program settles in at 8 p.m. Sundays.

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