NBC Wins a Medal, Though Results Aren't Golden

The Olympics--despite falling well short of NBC's projections as well as results for previous Games--nevertheless provided NBC a commanding victory in prime time last week, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

Even failing to meet expectations, the Olympics remain a formidable attraction, as NBC's coverage--featuring U.S. sprinter Marion Jones, among others--exceeded the combined audience for the three competing major networks.

CBS had to settle for fourth place, as its "Survivor" reruns haven't done much more than take up space against the Games. The network's other summer "reality" show, "Big Brother," has posted satisfactory ratings, given the competition, as the program stumbles toward its conclusion.

Bucking conventional wisdom, the WB network rolled out its new Friday lineup against the Olympics, with former ABC series "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" in the lead-off slot. "Sabrina" performed respectably by the WB's standards, but the new Darren Star comedy "Grosse Pointe" fumbled away more than 20% of that audience, and the second-year drama "Popular" didn't live up to its name either.

At the same time, ABC--relying on reruns of "Two Guys and a Girl" and "Norm"--posted its lowest Friday-night ratings ever, not an encouraging sign for the revised "Sabrina"-less lineup anchored by those sitcoms.

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 8.32 2. Wrestling (Mon., 10 p.m.) USA 7.00 3. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) USA 6.88 4. NFL Primetime ESPN 4.97 5. Sex and the City HBO 4.94 6. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 4.16 7. Arliss HBO 3.26 8. Wrestling (Sun., 7 p.m.) USA 3.15 9. "Ghost" TBS 2.96 10. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) TNT 2.89


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 25.41 million 11.53 ABC 9.80 12.79 FOX 7.68 8.08 CBS 7.62 11.42 UPN 3.41 3.79 WB 2.63 3.25


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. "Olympics" (Mon.-Sun.) KNBC 1,038,967 2. Millionaire (Sun.) KABC 535,550 3. Millionaire (Tue.) KABC 465,929 4. Millionaire (Thur.) KABC 428,440 5. "The Nutty Professor" KTTV 417,729 6. Dharma & Greg KABC 412,374 7. 60 Minutes KCBS 407,018 8. Vanished KABC 385,596 9. "Money Talks" KTTV 380,241 10. WWF Smackdown! KCOP 364,174


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