'Mammoth' becomes net's highest-rated program ever

NEW YORK — USA Net’s WWF Wrestling, which regularly ranks as one of cable’s highest-rated programs, has been knocked out of first place by none other than a wooly mammoth.

Discovery Net’s special “Raising the Mammoth,” which premiered Sunday, bumped “WWF” as the top rated ad-supported program on cable last week, with a whopping 7.8 rating in cable homes (equivalent to 10.1 million viewers), according to Nielsen ratings for the week of March 6-12. Meanwhile, Monday night’s double dose of “WWF” action earned the No. 2 and No. 3 top-rated slots with a 6.9 rating and a 5.9 rating, respectively.

In addition to being Discovery’s highest-rated program ever, the premiere telecast was the most watched non-sporting event on cable during the 1999-2000 season to date and was the most watched docu ever to air on cable.

The initial telecast received a higher household rating than NBC’s Sunday night movie “Donnie Brasco” and outdelivered all of the WB’s Sunday night lineup. Discovery’s previous highest-rated program was “Titanic: Anatomy of a Disaster,” which garnered a 4.5 household rating when it premiered in April 1997.

Ranking 47th among all shows for the week, “Mammoth” drew more viewers than repeat episodes of network hits “Will and Grace” and “Ally McBeal.”

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