'Dateline' Leads Fresh Approach to Programming

With the "Gone Fish" sign posted for most popular series, newsmagazines reeled in the most viewers last week, based on results issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

"Dateline NBC," featuring co-anchor Stone Phillips, led the charge as six news hours ranked among prime time's Top 10 programs, offering new stories as a counterpoint to summer repeats. "Just Shoot Me" also displayed promise by equaling "Seinfeld's" audience, NBC's best results in the post-"Seinfeld" slot since "Friends" aired there three summers ago.

NBC narrowly edged CBS overall, with the top-rated network's audience plummeting 47% compared to the previous week, which included three NBA basketball games. CBS, meanwhile, received a boost from its AFI special counting down the 100 best movies.

Despite the glut of reruns, several series that aired original episodes scored record-low ratings, including "Cybill," "New York Undercover" and the first-year CBS series "Michael Hayes." Few of "The X-Files" faithful also lined up for Fox's June 15 movie special, which finished fourth in its time period, behind a prime-time airing of the ABC soap "General Hospital."


Cable Top 10

Here are Nielsen's top 10 cable programs in prime time last week, also ranked by total viewers (in millions).


Program Network Viewers 1. Wrestling (Mon., 10 p.m.) USA 4.92 2. South Park COMC 4.79 3. Wrestling (Thurs., 9:05 p.m.) TBS 4.47 4. Wrestling (Mon., 8:57 p.m.) USA 4.37 5. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) TNT 4.19 6. Wrestling (Mon., 10 p.m.) TNT 4.16 7. Wrestling TNT 4.03 8. "Speed 2: Cruise Control" HBO 3.67 9. Rugrats NICK 3.44 10. "Ambushed" HBO 3.37


Network Averages

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


Last week Season to date NBC 9.15 million 14.66 CBS 8.93 13.55 ABC 7.65 11.77 FOX 6.59 10.12 WB 3.24 4.37 UPN 2.50 3.86


Southland Viewing

Here are Nielsen's Top 10 prime-time programs in the Los Angeles area during the same week. The rankings are based on the number of households watching.


Program Station Households 1. Seinfeld KNBC 821.514 2. Just Shoot Me KNBC 721,329 3. Friends KNBC 616,135 4. ER KNBC 611,126 5. Veronica's Closet KNBC 571,052 6. The X-Files KTTV 566,043 7. Frasier KNBC 561,034 8. 60 Minutes KCBS 551,015 9. "AFI's 100 Years/Movies" KCBS 548,006 10. Dateline NBC (Tue.)' KNBC 535,988


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