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‘Dateline’ storms in

Newsmag's 5th edition rains on

NEW YORK — With a boost from Hurricane Bonnie, the newest edition of “Dateline NBC” stirred up a Nielsen storm Wednesday, easily blowing away its timeslot competitors.

The official premiere of the fifth edition of the Jane Pauley/Stone Phillips newsmag — which was dominated by breaking news about the ferocious Bonnie — scored a 9.1 household rating/17 share at 8 p.m., attracting 12.35 million viewers. More impressively, the new “Dateline” gave NBC its best performance from any regularly skedded show in the timeslot since a Nov. 12, 1997, installment of “All-Star Bloopers.”

The first hour of Fox’s repeat of the theatrical “Tombstone” was second, with a 6.5/11 for the hour, followed by ABC’s repeat combo of “Dharma & Greg” and “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” (6.2/11) and CBS’ “The Nanny”/ “Style and Substance” (4.5/8).

In addition to winning the timeslot in households and viewers, the Wednesday “Dateline” notched a win among adults 18-49 and 25-54 for the hour, snagging a 4.4 and 5.0 respectively. “Dharma & Greg” outshined “Dateline” among adults 18-49 for the 8-8:30 half hour, but the NBC newsmag rebounded enough in its second half-hour to pull out the demo victory for the hour.

Cautiously optimistic

“Dateline NBC” exec producer Neal Shapiro was cautiously optimistic about the solid ratings start for the latest expansion of his newsmag franchise.

“I’m glad we came out of the box with a hot start,” he told Daily Variety, adding that he was particularly happy to premiere on a night when breaking news forced him to throw out most of the night’s scheduled segments.

Noting that the other webs are still in repeat mode on Wednesdays, Shapiro predicted a tougher road ahead for the fifth “Dateline” once the fall season kicks into gear.

Each household ratings point represents 980,000 TV homes. A share is the percentage of sets in use.

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