Auds show no ‘Fear’ as show wins in bow

Skein bests closest rival by 55% in adults 18-49

Be afraid, be very afraid: NBC’s “Fear Factor” is off to a great start.

Preem of the inexpensive reality series that critics loved to hate opened to impressive ratings on Monday, dominating its hour by all key measures and building nicely in its second half-hour.

According to Nielsen, “Fear Factor” (11.91 million viewers, 5.2/17 in adults 18-49) topped its closest competitor in the 8 o’clock hour by 55% in adults 18-49, by 85% in men 18-49 and by 27% in total viewers. It built by 26% in adults 18-49 from 8 to 8:30 (4.5/16 vs. 5.8/18), expanding the net’s advantage from 4 shares to 8 shares over CBS’ repeat comedies.

Compared with NBC’s summer 2000 averages for the Monday 8-9 p.m. hour, “Fear Factor” improved the time period by 59% in adults 18-49 and by 92% in men 18-49.

Among the nation’s largest markets, it fared best in Philadelphia, likely the result of heavy promotion during the NBA Finals.

Initial success of “Fear Factor” comes on the heels of a strong first two months for the same net’s quizzer “Weakest Link.” NBC, which will add “Spy TV” to its reality repertoire next week, had been late to the reality game but is using this summer as a tryout period for several alternative series.

On Monday, “Fear Factor” helped lead-out “Weakest Link” to a strong first-place finish of its own. Quizzer hit a new Monday high in adults 18-49 (6.0/17) and gave NBC its highest rating in the 9 p.m. hour with regularly skedded programming since the series finale of “Mad About You” in May 1999.

NBC won each half-hour in adults 18-49 on a Monday for the first time (without sports) since February 1999.

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