With "Monday Night Football" and the 52nd annual Emmy Awards as bookends and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" in the middle, ABC dominated the weekly ratings by a margin of more than 4 million viewers, as seven of the top 10 programs aired on the network, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.
Hosted by Garry Shandling, the Emmys improved by 25% compared to viewing of the ceremony last year on Fox, with the telecast's highest total viewership since 1986.
"Monday Night Football," meanwhile--benefiting from a close contest between the Rams and Broncos and perhaps to a degree its much-dis-cussed new team in the booth--got off to a strongstart despite airing on Labor Day, which traditionally takes a bite out of TV viewing levels.
"Millionaire" also delivered its biggest Tuesday night audience in 12 weeks, suggesting some viewers who drifted away in the summer may be returning. About the only downside for ABC was weak tune-in for its prime-time college football coverage on Saturday.
The MTV Video Music Awards was the other ratings standout last week, drawing the biggest audience for a cable entertainment program in the past year despite a drop of nearly 20% compared to its '99 results.
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. Sunday Night Football ESPN 9.92 2. "2000 Music Video Awards" MTV 9.85 3. NFL Primetime ESPN 5.59 4. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) TNT 4.60 5. Sex and the City HBO 4.20 6. "Blue Streak" HBO 3.75 7. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 3.66 8. Wrestling (Sun., 7 p.m.) USA 3.63 9. "Random Hearts" HBO 3.54 10. "The Matrix" HBO 3.36
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 12.38 million 12.90 CBS 8.30 11.56 NBC 7.89 11.17 FOX 7.05 8.11 UPN 3.89 3.79 WB 2.52 3.27