New Spring Series, Basketball Missing Their Shots

A deluge of spring-tryout series remained largely unimpressive last week, while basketball failed to deliver in the ratings stat sheet as well, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

ABC--which scored its 14th consecutive weekly ratings victory thanks to "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"--has used that quiz show hit as a launching pad for its new series, with only modest results. After a solid start following "Millionaire" two weeks ago, the second airing of ABC's documentary "Making the Band" fell to fourth place in its Friday time slot, losing 15% of those who viewed its lead-in, "Sabrina the Teenage Witch."

ABC's drama "Wonderland," meanwhile, performed adequately overall but saw more than 3 million viewers who initially tuned in after Thursday's "Millionaire" bail out before the hour was over--not encouraging versus an "ER" rerun. So far, the most promising new shows appear to be Fox's comedy "Titus" and NBC's "Daddio," which retained most of the "Friends" audience.

College basketball's Final Four continued its downward spiral, dropping 10% compared to the 17 million viewers who watched last year's semifinals and more than 20% from CBS' audience in 1998. Pro basketball has been equally disappointing this season, with NBC generating tepid ratings Sunday despite a marquee Lakers-Knicks matchup.

Cable Top 10

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


Net- View- Program work ers 1. Wrestling (Mon., 10 p.m.) USA 7.70 2. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) USA 7.65 3. The Sopranos HBO 5.44 4. "Forces of Nature" HBO 4.24 5. "The Devil's Advocate" TNT 3.85 6. NCAA Women's Basketball ESPN 3.67 7. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 3.31 8. "My Cousin Vinny" TNT 3.29 9. Wild Thornberrys NICK 3.19 10. The Sopranos (Sat.) HBO 3.16


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 Season week to date ABC 13.66 million 14.27 CBS 11.95 12.72 NBC 10.44 12.51 FOX 8.85 9.23 UPN 3.82 3.94 WB 2.95 3.73


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.


Sta- House- Program tion holds 1. Millionaire (Thur.) KABC 978,889 2. Millionaire (Sun.) KABC 957,950 3. Millionaire (Tue.) KABC 937,011 4. The Practice KABC 753,797 5. "The Audrey Hepburn Story" KABC 732,858 6. Friends KNBC 685,746 7. Will & Grace KNBC 638,633 8. Ally McBeal KTTV 628,164 9. Wonderland KABC 622,929 10. Malcolm in the Middle KTTV 586,286


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