Net reaches three times its average

About 175 million viewers tuned in to at least a portion of “ABC 2000,” the Alphabet network’s 24-hour coverage of the new year’s arrival around the globe. That’s nearly triple the number ABC reaches during an average broadcast day.

Y2K fears and interest in the new millennium brought viewership surges to the other networks as well, but ABC uncorked the biggest New Year’s Eve results, including a metered-market 16.1 rating, 30 share, in households for its 11:20-11:55 p.m. coverage (11:55 p.m.-12:05 a.m. was considered local coverage).

That 16.1 is higher than any national primetime rating logged since the Dec. 16 episode of “ER.”

ABC Research estimated that about 175 million watched at least part of its 24-hours millennium coverage — a huge increase over the roughly 65 million ABC would garner on an average day.

NBC’s latenight millennium coverage Friday night/Saturday morning earned a 5.8/12 in Nielsen’s metered markets, while an 11:35-11:50 p.m. “Tonight Show” segment hit a 6.8/13, repping a modest increase from the previous night’s 6.2/15 for a standard-length “Tonight.”

Eye on New Year’s

CBS got a solid New Year’s Eve boost, growing from the previous night’s 3.9/9 for “Late Night With David Letterman” to a 4.7/10 for its millennium coverage.

The round-the-clock “ABC 2000″ telecast also dominated primetime (8-11 p.m.) results Dec. 31, averaging an 11.7/22 in overnights to win the night by an overwhelming 10 shares over second-place NBC (6.2/12).

ABC’s primetime 11.7 rating will almost certainly decline at least a bit when Nielsen issues national numbers today, but it will probably still stand as the Alphabet’s highest Friday household prime rating since the Sugar Bowl last Jan. 1.

Big Four up 25%

All told, the Big Four were up in primetime Dec. 31 overnights by 25% vs. their combined New Year’s Eve national rating last year (26.2 vs. 20.9).

Coverage of 2000’s arrival no doubt brought significant increases to some cable services as well, particularly CNN, but no cable Nielsens were available Sunday.

“ABC 2000″ started at 4:50 a.m. Eastern time with a quiet 1.8/12 for its first 70 minutes, then rose steadily through the day, achieving a 13.5/24 by the 6:30-7:30 p.m. hour, before peaking during the 11:20-11:55 p.m. segment. From 12:05-1 a.m., ABC maintained a powerful 14.0/28, but ratings gradually diminished from there.

Nielsen overnights are derived from 47 metered markets that account for 65% of the country’s TV homes. Each household rating point reps 1% of the universe being measured, and each share point translates to 1% of the homes in which TV is being viewed during the slot involved.

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