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Reality, NASCAR lift NBC

UPN looks good with 'Models,' 'Smackdown'

You know it’s a slow week when an auto race and a well-worn theatrical are among the top ratings draws.

The least-watched week of the year produced few Nielsen fireworks prior to July 4, but NBC revved up auds Saturday with the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race and Fox lit it up Sunday with, fittingly, “Independence Day.”

For the week of June 30-July 6, NBC won convincingly in adults 18-49 for its sixth straight summer victory (2.8/10), while CBS inched past the Peacock in overall total viewers. NBC also led in adults 25-54 and adults 18-34 (tying Fox).

UPN holds auds

UPN, with original episodes of hot talent show “America’s Next Top Model” and wrestling’s “WWE Smackdown” repping 30% of its sked, held up well in the holiday week. Net moved up to third in adults 18-34 (1.4/6), edging out ABC and CBS.

With July 4 landing on a Friday, ratings for hit Thursday shows like “CSI” and “Friends” both took a hit, as viewers were already in vacation mode. “Independence Day” (4.0/13) emerged as the week’s top program in adults 18-49, while Monday CBS drama “CSI: Miami” was on top in total viewers for the first time (12.07 million) and also led in 25-54 (5.0/13).

Finales on tap

Things figure to pick up ratings-wise this week, which includes finales for NBC’s “For Love or Money” and UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model” and the premieres of CBS skeins “Big Brother 4” and “Cupid.”

The Peacock net was again very balanced, winning or tying for the 18-49 lead on every night but Thursday and Sunday and claiming 10 of the week’s top 15 programs in 18-49. It joined UPN as the only nets up across-the-board vs. the same week a year ago.

NBC’s “For Love or Money,” two segs of “Meet My Folks,” “Last Comic Standing” and “Fear Factor” were the week’s top five reality shows in 18-49, while docu-reality skein “Crime & Punishment” (3.2/9 in 18-49) easily led its Sunday hour. Net also scored with its Saturday NASCAR race (3.7/16 in 18-49, 9.69m), which doubled or tripled the other nets in key demos.

Eye spies Thursday win

CBS, second on the week in 25-54, led a diluted Thursday field in most key categories, led by “CSI” (3.2/13 in 18-49, 10.80m). Net couldn’t do much with that other Will Smith movie on Sunday, as the preem of “Wild, Wild West” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 6.97m) performed sluggishly — especially in the 9 o’clock hour opposite “Independence Day.”

Auds seemed to find Eye’s “Boston Pops” holiday spec on Friday, as show’s rating spiked sharply in the second half and finished with a slot-leading 7.43 million viewers overall — making it the most-watched program on July 4.

‘King’ reigns

Eye laffer “King of Queens” is doing well in its special summer slot on Mondays at 9:30, rating as the week’s No. 1 comedy in 18-49 (3.6/10) and now building on “Everybody Loves Raymond” in 18-49 in each of its first three tries. By comparison, “Still Standing” lost about 15% of that lead-in and “Becker” more than 20%.

“Independence Day” matched Fox’s highest-rated night of the summer (4.0/12 in A18-49). Net also tied for the demo lead on Wednesday, where “Paradise Hotel” (3.1/10) is faring considerably better than its Monday seg (2.3/7).

Other firstrun Fox fare, ranging from “Keen Eddie” to reality skeins “Anything for Love” and “American Juniors,” are delivering soft to modest ratings. Tuesday’s “Juniors” (2.9/10 in 18-49) fell behind NBC’s “Dog Eat Dog” (3.0/11) for the first time.

Alphabet lags

ABC was well off the pace in all key categories but continues to do reasonably well with its repeat comedy blocks. On Monday, four episodes of “8 Simple Rules” beat Fox’s reality programming in 18-49 and CBS’ established comedies in 18-34.

Net’s “Dating Experiment” is a bad one, as week two of the new reality skein is struggling on Wednesday (1.9/6 in 18-49, 3.86m).

UPN ranked first on Thursday from 8 to 10 among persons 12-34 (2.4/12) and young male demos with “Smackdown,” while Tuesday’s “Top Model” ranked as the week’s No. 5 program in women 18-34 (4.2/13).

There was not much to cheer about at the WB, where Wednesday’s original surfing show “Boarding House: North Shore” (1.0/4 in 18-49) isn’t doing much.

In the evening news race, ABC’s “World News Tonight” broke through with its first victory in the 25-54 demo this season, edging past NBC (2.3/10 to 2.2/10).

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