NBC earned top numbers

Last weekend’s live coverage of the search for John F. Kennedy Jr. brought sharp viewership increases to the broadcast networks.

NBC more than tripled the ratings it anticipated from Saturday afternoon sports telecasts, while ABC more than doubled its recent Saturday results. And in primetime Sunday night, NBC’s “Dateline” added 3 shares vs. previous-week results.

According to overnight figures derived from Nielsen’s 46 metered markets, NBC earned the top JFK Jr. numbers during the day Saturday, with an average 5.8 rating, 14 share, while ABC reported the highest Saturday primetime figures (5.7/11).

In Sunday prime coverage, CBS’ “60 Minutes” (9.7/18) and ABC’s “20/20″ (9.7/15) tied for best rating, but only “Dateline NBC” (7.9/14, up from last week’s 6.0/11) showed a significant increase vs. previous-week results.

The first Nielsen figures for cable’s coverage of the JFK Jr. search are expected today.

NBC’s daylong 5.8/14 Saturday (10:45 a.m.-8 p.m.) reps more than three times the 1.6 rating the net roughly expected from golf and women’s basketball that afternoon, events that were bumped to CNBC to make room for JFK Jr. coverage.

ABC’s 5.1/13 Saturday (9:53 a.m.-5:58 p.m.) more than doubles the net’s Saturday average of a 2.5. That day’s scheduled telecast of British Open golf (bumped from ABC to ESPN) was expected to score about a 4.0 rating.

CBS settled for a 3.6/10 that day, still far ahead of anticipated results for the senior golf telecast preempted that day by JFK Jr. coverage.

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