TV Ratings : Arresting Coverage Deflates NBC’s NBA Numbers

ABC used a strong slate of sitcom repeats led by “Home Improvement,” with Tim Allen, and “Grace Under Fire"--and newsmagazines to wrest last week’s ratings championship from NBC, whose NBA Finals on Friday were dramatically affected by news coverage of O.J. Simpson’s arrest.

But NBC did beat CBS, last season’s top-rated network, for the week with a 9.3 rating, followed by 8.3 for CBS and 5.1 for Fox. ABC led with a 9.7, according to A.C. Nielsen Co. figures released Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, NBC won the week for the first time in a year because of the first three games of pro basketball’s championship between the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks. But NBC was hurt last Friday by lower ratings for Game 5 in New York, which finished No. 46 for the week, compared to No. 9 for Game 4.


The network blames extensive live news coverage of the Simpson chase in Southern California--which NBC affiliates covering at least 10% of the country, including KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, chose to broadcast instead.

Through the first six games, the NBA Finals are averaging an 11.3 rating, down 37% from the first six games of last season’s matchup between the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns.

Meanwhile, Disney’s new animated feature “The Lion King” promises to be a blockbuster based on the interest in an ABC special last Wednesday, which finished at No. 13.

Southland Ratings

Here are A. C. Nielsen’s Top 10 prime-time programs in the Los Angeles area during the same week. Each rating point equals 50,064 households.

Program Station Rating 1. 60 Minutes KCBS 17.1 2. Home Improvement KABC 17.0 3. Frasier KNBC 14.6 4. Grace Under Fire KABC 14.5 5. Roseanne KABC 14.0 6. Seinfeld KNBC 13.8 7. Married . . . With Children KTTV 13.2 8. The Simpsons KTTV 13.1 9. Coach KABC 13.0 10. “O.J. Simpson Arrest Coverage” KNBC 12.9