Sydney Olympics Give NBC a Gold-Medal Cushion

Despite lagging behind other recent Olympics in the ratings race, initial tune-in for the current Games in Sydney, Australia, easily placed NBC onto the week's victory platform, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

NBC's tape-delayed coverage, anchored in prime time by Bob Costas, actually drew its biggest audience before the bulk of the action began with Friday's opening ceremonies. Though ratings are below the network's pre-Olympic projections thus far, several glamour events--assuming NBC has any room for them after all those taped pieces set to music--have yet to begin.

With three days of the Olympics included its weekly prime-time average NBC enjoyed a com-manding advantage over second-place ABC, whose "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" nevertheless demonstrated its durability by holding its own against the Games on Sunday night.

CBS began rerunning its summer hit "Survivor" opposite the Olympics and appears to be discovering most people interested in the show saw it the first time around. The network's other "reality" concept, "Big Brother," continues to attract solid but unspectacular ratings, while CBS' inaugural telecast of the Latin Grammy Awards failed to generate much tune-in on a national basis but performed disproportionately well in major cities such as New York, L.A. and Miami.

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 8.51 2. Sunday Night Football ESPN 7.75 3. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) USA 7.21 4. Sex and the City HBO 4.76 5. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 4.63 6. NFL Primetime ESPN 4.23 7. Wrestling (Sun., 7 p.m.) USA 4.02 8. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) TNT 3.55 9. "Blue Streak" HBO 3.45 10. "Sister Act" TBS 3.43


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 NBC 16.57 million 11.28 ABC 10.20 12.84 CBS 8.35 11.50 FOX 6.54 8.08 UPN 4.18 3.79 WB 2.51 3.26


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. Summer Olympics KNBC 1,033,612 2. Millionaire (Tue.) KABC 605,172 3. Law & Order (Wed.) KNBC 561,617 4. Millionaire (Thur.) KABC 546,251 5. The West Wing KNBC 540,906 6. Latin Grammy Awards KCBS 524,839 7. Frasier KNBC 492,706 8. Law & Order (Mon.) KNBC 471,284 9. Will & Grace KNBC 460,573 10. Hopkins 24/7 KABC 455,218 20/20 Downtown KABC 455,218


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