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Eye lands on top

'Survivor' boosts CBS two points to dominate frame

No network is an island, but CBS came pretty close last week.

The Eye was the top-rated network for a second consecutive week, with summer smash “Survivor” obliterating all other programs in Nielsen’s rankings for the Aug. 21-27 frame. Show was so dominant that it inflated CBS’ weekly score in the adults 18-49 demo by more than two full ratings points.

CBS would have been competitive even without “Survivor” — within a few ticks of the demo lead — but the island-based reality series is the clear reason why the net placed first in adults 18-49 for a third time this summer after failing to finish better than third in any week during the regular season.

According to Nielsen, CBS topped second-place ABC by 2 ratings points in the key demo (5.3/16 vs. 3.3/10) and by nearly 4 million viewers (13.61 million vs. 9.72). It’s the net’s best 18-49 rating since the Winter Olympics in February 1998 and largest weekly viewer total in the six months since the Grammy Awards.

CBS also won the week in adults 18-34 (4.8/16) and teens (3.2/12).

Compared with the same week a year ago, CBS more than doubled its adults 18-49 rating (5.3 vs. 2.6) and delivered 49% more viewers (13.61 million vs. 9.79 million).

“Survivor” now ranks as the most-watched series of the broadcast season that began in September, with its 13-episode average of 28.25 million viewers moving ahead of the Sunday edition of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (25.57 million). Of course, “Survivor’s” average figures to drop once its repeat segs (beginning in mid-September) are factored in.

ABC also continues to lead the nets among total viewers and adults 18-49 through 49 weeks of the season. Its average of 12.98 million viewers is still well ahead of second-place CBS (11.69), while its 4.9/14 tops NBC’s 4.6/14 in the demo.

UPN marked the first anniversary of wrestling series “WWF Smackdown” by maintaining its year-ago adults 18-49 average (1.4/4) while gaining 8% in viewers to 3.53 million.

And Pax, vying to become the seventh broadcast net, had a strong premiere week — averaging a best-yet 1.4 million viewers (up from about 1 million last year). Most impressive was Friday’s “Encounters With the Unexplained,” whose 1.6 million viewers more than doubled the net’s premiere-week delivery in 1999.

Nets’ adults 18-49 averages for Aug. 21-27: CBS, a 5.3 rating/16 share (up 104% vs. a year ago); ABC, 3.3/10 (down 21%); NBC, 2.9/9 (down 15%); Fox, 2.8/8 (down 20%); UPN, 1.4/4 (even); the WB, 0.9/3 (down 18%); Pax, 0.4/1 (up 33%).

In homes: CBS, 8.8/15 (up 35%); ABC, 6.7/12 (down 8%); NBC, 5.5/10 (down 13%); Fox, 4.0/7 (down 29%); UPN, 2.2/4 (down 4%); the WB, 1.6/3 (down 24%); Pax, 1.1/2 (up 33%).

Adults 18-49 averages for the top cable services: HBO, 0.9/3 (down 31%); USA, 0.8/3 (down 20%), tied with TNT, 0.8/2 (up 14%) and ESPN, 0.8/2 (even); Lifetime, 0.7/2 (up 17%).


ABC’s second made-for TV “Battle for Bighorn” golf spec, featuring Tiger Woods against Sergio Garcia, averaged a 7.6/13 homes rating on Aug. 28, up 10% from last year’s match between Woods and David Duval (6.9/12). The three-hour plus event gave ABC the night in total viewers (9.92 million) although its older skew left the net third for the night in adults 18-49 with a 3.3/10.

CBS (3.7/11) edged NBC (3.5/10) for the demo lead behind “Everybody Loves Raymond” (5.0/14) and the top-rated “Becker” since June (4.3/11).


Fox placed second to ABC in adults 18-49 as comedies “King of the Hill” (3.4/11) and “Malcolm in the Middle” (5.2/14) logged their best ratings since May. “Malcolm” and “The Simpsons” (5.2/15) finished the week as the demo’s top-rated laffers.

Repeat made-for “Echo of Thunder” delivered CBS’ largest audience for a Sunday movie (10.87 million) since May.


CBS’ “Miss Teen USA” (4.9/9 in homes) paid the price for moving to Saturday from Tuesday, slipping by 35% vs. last year (7.5/13).

ABC’s first college football primetime game (Florida State-BYU) averaged 5.61 million viewers and a 2.0/7 in adults 18-49, down a bit from what CBS drew a week earlier for preseason NFL action (5.79 million, 2.2/8).


Reality shows “World’s Funniest Game Shows” (2.6/10) and “Guinness World Records” (2.5/9) lifted Fox to a win in adults 18-49 despite a fourth-place finish in total viewers (5.81 million). Net won every half-hour in adults 18-49 except for 8 p.m., when CBS’ “Big Brother” (2.8/11) topped “Game Shows” (2.4/10).

ABC’s “20/20” drew its largest audience in seven weeks (9.56 million)


ABC took the night easily in viewers over NBC (13.54 million vs. 8.45 million) and by 1 share in adults 18-49 (4.4/14 vs. 4.1/13).

Leading the way was “20/20 — Downtown,” which enjoyed its largest advantages to date over NBC’s “ER” — 68% in viewers (12.57 million vs. 7.50) and 27% in adults 18-49 (4.2/13 vs. 3.3/10). The “ER” numbers were easily its lowest of the summer.

“Smackdown!” helped UPN win the night in men 18-49 (3.8/13), men 18-34 (4.7/18) and teens (5.7/21).


“Survivor” (51.69 million, 28.6/45 in homes) became CBS’ top-rated program since Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding skated in the 1994 Winter Olympics. And based on the number of households watching — a stat that favors more recent telecasts due to population increases — the finale (28.78 million homes) ranks 11th all-time among series programming.

Opposite “Survivor,” ABC’s “Spin City” (4.43 million) and the WB’s “Dawson’s Creek” (1.62) were among the shows that fell to their smallest audiences ever.


A heavily promoted repeat segment featuring “Survivor” castaway Richard Hatch helped NBC’s “Dateline” deliver its best adults 18-49 rating on a Tuesday (5.5/16) since February and lift the net to a nightly demo victory. Show finished the week No. 5 in 18-49.

The Peacock’s “Frasier” topped ABC’s “Dharma & Greg” in adults 18-49 for the first time (4.5/13 vs. 4.1/12).

“Teen Choice Awards” delivered Fox’s best Tuesday marks (7.44 million, 3.3/10 in 18-49) since May and became its top-rated Tuesday special among teens (6.8/24) and women 18-34 (4.7/14) since Feb. 15 (“Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?”)

“Mysterious Ways” bowed on Pax with a 0.9/2 in homes — the net’s best showing in the slot this season but only about one-seventh of what the series netted a night earlier on NBC (6.5/11). (Pax is in 81% of U.S. homes.)


Miami-Green Bay NFL preseason contest (11.05 million, 4.2/13 in A18-49) kept ABC ahead of the pack on Aug. 21.

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