Auds flock to speech, telethon

Bush's address the most watched presidential speech ever

HOLLYWOOD — ABC and NBC split top ratings honors for the final week of the 2000-01 television season, but the two biggest shows of the frame could be seen on just about any net.

Week of Sept. 17-23 was highlighted by two unique events that were blanketed over the broadcast networks and multiple cable outlets, amassing huge auds.

President Bush’s address to Congress Thursday night was watched by an average of 82.1 million Americans on nine networks, making it the most watched presidential speech ever. Other than the Super Bowl, it’s also the No. 1 program of the past year.

Friday’s star-studded telethon for the families of the terrorist attack victims, “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” averaged 59.3 million viewers during its two hours. More than 89 million watched at least some of the event, which aired on 31 national networks.

Neither program was included in the weekly ratings, as they were not commercially sponsored.

Among the programs that were ranked by Nielsen Media Research, NBC’s repeat of May’s one-hour “Friends” season finale was the week’s top show in adults 18-49 (8.4/24), while ABC’s two-hour season premiere of “The Practice” was the most-watched program (17.83 million).

ABC, buoyed by “The Practice” and Saturday’s “Miss America” pageant, was tops in total viewers for a sixth straight week. Net also claimed the week’s top two news programs in adults 18-49 (Thursday’s “Primetime” and Monday’s news spec on the terrorist attacks) and placed a close second to NBC in adults 18-49 (3.9/10 vs. 4.0/11).

The Peacock net won in the key demo for the 22nd time in 23 weeks, and also was tops in adults 25-54 and 18-34.

CBS finished second in total viewers and third in adults 18-49. Net was boosted by the season finale of “Big Brother 2,” which ranked third for the week in adults 18-49 (behind “Friends” and “The Practice”), and the solid debut for Sunday’s “The Education of Max Bickford,” which was No. 3 for the week in viewers (16.5 million).

Fox won the week in all male demos but finished fourth in adults 18-49 and total viewers.

In the evening news race, the first full week of newscasts following the terrorist attacks resulted in ratings boosts for all three programs.

ABC enjoyed the biggest year-to-year ratings growth (up 23%) and led the way with an average of 11.2 million viewers, followed by NBC (11.03m, up 17%) and CBS (8.76m, up 6%).

Sunday

CBS won in total viewers behind the largest aud since February for “60 Minutes” (16.12m) and a timeslot victory for new drama “The Education of Max Bickford” (16.50m), which also won in adults 25-54 (6.0/13).

Fox prevailed in 18-49 behind a football overrun and the broadcast preem of “Rush Hour” (12.55m, 5.1/12 in A18-49). ABC was a close second, as “The Practice” earned its best premiere score (6.8/15) in four years.

Saturday

“Miss America” on ABC delivered slight year-to-year gains in total viewers (up 8% to 13.61m), but fell to an all-time low in adults 18-49 (down 5% to 3.7/11). Still, the net ruled the night with its largest Saturday aud since January 2000.

Friday

NBC’s “Dateline” (10.37m, 3.3/11 in A18-49) won the three-newsmag battle at 8 prior to “A Tribute to Heroes,” which aired on more than 30 broadcast and cable networks.

Thursday

“Friends” gave NBC its top-rated show in adults 18-49 (8.4/24) since Game 4 of the NBA Finals in June.

CBS’ “Big Brother 2” wrapped by winning the 10 o’clock hour in adults 18-49 (6.0/15) and adults 18-34 (5.8/16) with the show’s best scores of the summer (Daily Variety, Sept. 24).

Wednesday

“The Amazing Race” (10.02m, 4.6/12 in A18-49) did well in its second try on CBS, but the net’s “Wolf Lake” (8.69m, 3.4/9) didn’t do much with its premiere (Daily Variety, Sept. 21).

Tuesday

The penultimate episode of “Big Brother 2” (11.85m, 5.2/13 in A18-49) won the night’s middle hour, sandwiched between winning newsmag scores from “48 Hours” on CBS at 8 (14.40m, 4.0/12) and “Dateline” on NBC at 10 (11.41m, 4.5/12)

Monday

CBS won Sept. 17 in adults 18-49 (4.1/10), with ABC moving ahead in total viewers (11.8 million) behind two hours of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

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