'ER,' 'Seinfeld' Help Give NBC Early Present

Christmas-oriented fare generally did well last week in a period of diminished network viewing heavily populated by repeats. Still, it was prime-time stars "ER" and "Seinfeld" that gift-wrapped another routine ratings win for NBC, based on results issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

New holiday offerings included Dolly Parton in "Unlikely Angel," the week's highest-rated movie as well as CBS' top Tuesday movie since February; and ABC's "The Christmas Tree," a movie directed by Sally Field, which didn't fare as well, finishing far behind "Sister Act" on Sunday. In terms of holiday classics, "It's a Wonderful Life," watched by 13.5 million people, was up 5% from a year ago, while the animated perennial "A Charlie Brown Christmas" fell 21% below last year's rating thanks mostly to airing opposite "Friends."

Despite ranking third for the week, ABC's stocking wasn't completely empty. "Grace Under Fire" beat a new episode of "The Nanny" by nearly 2 million viewers, something "Ellen" hadn't accomplished in that 8 p.m. Wednesday slot all season. ABC's "World News Tonight" also inched back ahead of "The NBC Nightly News" in the evening-news race after settling for second the previous two weeks.


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 Network Rating 1. ER KNBC 22.1 2. Seinfeld KNBC 18.4 3. NYPD Blue KABC 17.7 4. Suddenly Susan KNBC 16.0 5. Home Improvement KABC 14.7 6. 60 Minutes KCBS 14.1 7. Melrose Place KTTV 13.3 8. Friends KNBC 12.9 9. Frasier KNBC 12.7 -- NewsRadio (Thur.) KNBC 12.7


Weekly Averages

NBC: 10.3

CBS: 9.4

ABC: 9.1

FOX: 6.7

UPN: 2.9

WB: 2.5

Season to Date

NBC: 10.8

CBS: 9.9

ABC: 9.7

FOX: 8.0

UPN: 3.3

WB: 2.7

Source: A. C. Nielsen

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