ABC successfully used the Academy Awards to generate sampling for its new comedies last week, while CBS shot a much higher percentage with the NCAA Final Four, leaving the two networks in a virtual weekly tie based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.
Both "What About Joan," starring Joan Cusack, and the Damon Wayans vehicle "My Wife and Kids" capitalized on ads during the Oscars and opened strongly on ABC. The former improved on its "Dharma & Greg" lead-in and helped "NYPD Blue" book its biggest audience in nine weeks, while the latter easily won its Wednesday time slot.
CBS' prime-time NCAA basketball coverage Saturday climbed 20% versus a year ago, rebounding to its highest level since 1998. ESPN also performed
reasonably well Sunday with the NCAA women's championship game, up slightly from last year.
"Survivor," which shifted to Wednesday for two weeks due to NCAA tournament coverage, picked up where it left off on Thursday, though almost three-quarters of that audience fled by the time "Big Apple" was over, prompting CBS to pull the crime drama.
"Survivor" producer Mark Burnett's "Eco-Challenge" drew 2.7 million viewers Sunday, 20th among last week's cable offerings. "Semper Fi," a Steven Spielberg pilot NBC chose not to order as a series, ran fourth among the major networks and was also upstaged by cable's most-watched show, "The Sopranos."
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. The Sopranos HBO 8.44 2. Wrestling (Mon., 10 p.m.) TNN 6.46 3. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) TNN 5.68 4. Women's Basket. (Post) ESPN 4.10 5. Wrestling (Mon., 8 p.m.) TNT 3.94 6. NCAA Women's Basketball ESPN 3.73 7. Wrestling (Mon., 9 p.m.) TNT 3.61 8. Rugrats NICK 3.60 9. Fairly Odd Parents NICK 3.59 10. Wild Thornberrys NICK 3.20
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 12.74 million 13.03 CBS 12.73 12.57 NBC 10.03 11.76 FOX 9.61 9.88 UPN 3.32 3.81 WB 2.96 3.81