The Super Bowl and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" have hoisted ABC to a solid lead in this season's prime-time standings--a perch the network hasn't occupied in nearly five years.
Based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research, Super Bowl XXXIV--featuring Rams quarterback Kurt Warner--drew about 6% more viewers than last year's telecast on Fox, and having the game as its blocking sled also helped deliver the biggest audience yet to ABC's "The Practice."
"Millionaire" continues to be a wrecking ball, climbing to new heights and pulling ABC's Tuesday lineup along with it, including record tune-in for "Dharma & Greg." By way of comparison, 4 million
more people watched the quiz show on Jan. 25 than viewed the State of the Union address, simulcast on seven networks, two days later. Game shows are benefiting other networks as well, albeit on a less grandiose scale. "Twenty One" was NBC's second most-watched show last week, while "Greed" was instrumental in providing Fox's biggest Friday audience in more than two years.
ABC's "Once and Again" generated marginal results for its return Jan. 24 against fellow first-year dramas "Family Law" and "Third Watch."
UPN, meanwhile, has pulled even for the season with the WB, due primarily to ratings gains from its own contact-oriented sport, "WWF Smackdown!"
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 8.52 2. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) USA 8.02 3. Wrestling (Sun., 8 p.m.) USA 6.60 4. The Sopranos HBO 5.60 5. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 4.20 6. "The Substitute" USA 3.67 7. Snick House NICK 3.64 8. Ripley's Believe It or Not TBS 3.43 9. Boxing SHOW 3.41 10. "The Courage to Love" LIFE 3.38
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 27.66 million 13.74 CBS 11.04 12.90 NBC 10.59 12.86 FOX 7.95 9.24 UPN 4.14 3.90 WB 4.10 3.86
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. Super Bowl Postgame Show KABC 1,418,604 2. Millionaire (Tue.) KABC 1,088,818 3. Eyewitness News Special KABC 900,368 4. Millionaire (Thur.) KABC 895,134 5. Millionaire (Sat.) KABC 769,501 6. 60 Minutes KCBS 727,623 Law & Order KNBC 727,623 8. Will & Grace KNBC 706,685 Dharma & Greg KABC 706,685 10. The Practice KABC 675,276