Any expectations that CBS' "Big Brother" would pick up where fellow reality series "Survivor" left off appear to be fizzling like Fourth of July sparklers, as ratings for the show diminished over the weekend after a promising start, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.
On the plus side, "Big Brother's" modest ratings still represent a significant improvement over what CBS normally attracts with summer reruns, and the younger audience advertisers crave is disproportionately represented among those tuning in, helping CBS score a victory among adults ages 18 to 49--its first without a special event such as the Olympics in more than six years. CBS has committed to running "Big Brother," hosted by CBS News' Julie Chen, five nights a week through September.
"Survivor," meanwhile, appears to have leveled off at an average of 24 million viewers, good enough to top the prime-time standings for the third consecutive week. Viewing of ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" also surged with an original episode--and the show's fifth $1 million winner--after several weeks of reruns.
Thanks to this infusion of fresh summer fare, viewing was up compared to the corresponding week last year for every major network except Fox. The Fourth of July and related holiday travel traditionally produce one of the least-watched weeks of the year.
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 7.43 2. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) USA 6.02 3. "Wild Wild West" HBO 5.51 4. Sunday Night Baseball ESPN 4.03 5. Sex and the City HBO 3.97 6. The Postman TBS 3.82 7. Longitude A&E; 3.67 8. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 3.12 9. Dexter's Laboratory TOON 3.11 10. Wrestling (Sun., 7 p.m.) USA 3.08
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 CBS 9.71 million 12.03 ABC 9.14 13.54 NBC 8.11 11.87 FOX 6.25 8.52 UPN 2.84 3.84 WB 2.42 3.44
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 790,440 2. Survivor KCBS 764,266 3. Big Brother (Wed.) KCBS 696,215 4. Millionaire (Sun.) KABC 633,399 5. 48 Hours (Wed.) KCBS 565,348 20/20 Downtown KABC 565,348 7. "Con Air" KABC 544,409 8. Friends KNBC 539,174 9. Law & Order KNBC 528,705 10. 20/20 (Fri.) KABC 518,235