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Peacock, Eye nets tie as ABC nails sweeps victory

'Millionaire' crushes competish, 'Law' gives NBC slight edge

NBC and CBS, who battled it out for first place in the February sweeps household ratings race a year ago, went to a photo finish for second place in sweeps, with the nets finishing tied and NBC edging ahead in total viewers.

Wednesday’s “Law & Order” (12.5/21 in households, 18.32 million viewers) proved the difference for NBC, while CBS couldn’t make up enough ground with the conclusion of its mini “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town” (10.2/16, 13.93 million).

The two network leaders of a year ago stepped aside this month as ABC and its “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” steamrolled competition.

ABC, which had clinched first place in adults 18-49, households and total viewers a few days earlier, finished the sweep Wednesday with a flourish. An extra episode of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (31.98 million viewers, 10.3/28 in adults 18-49) lifted the Alphabet web to its third straight nightly victory in the 18-49 set.

“Millionaire” shows no signs of slowing down as Wednesday’s episode drew its fourth-largest audience yet and helped lead-out “The Drew Carey Show” (19.09 million, 9.2/23 in adults 18-49) post its third-best marks this season in both categories. After “Drew” at 9:30, “Norm” attracted its second-biggest audience in its two seasons (14.15 million).

The strong finish helped ABC maintain a 6.0/16 rating in adults 18-49, up 11% over its February 1999 results and even a slight gain over its November 1999 winning score of 5.9/15.

NBC, last February’s winner in both households and adults 18-49, used a strong series slate to finish second in young adults with a 5.6/15 (down 11% vs. a year ago), followed by Fox, 4.8/13 (down 11%); CBS, 4.0/11 (down 2%); UPN, 1.6/4 (up 23%); and WB, 1.5/4 (down 33%).

ABC won by a smaller margin in adults 25-54 (6.8/16 vs. NBC’s 6.5/16). Fox and CBS tied for third (4.8/12).

The final household standings are: ABC, 10.4/17 (up 17% vs. a year ago); NBC, 9.1/15 (down 9%), tied with CBS, (down 6%); Fox, 6.6/10 (down 8%); and UPN, 2.8/4 (up 33%), tied with the WB, 2.8/4 (down 22%).

Fox won the month in teens and posted its fourth consecutive sweeps victory in adults 18-34.

UPN continued its momentum in February with the net’s best sweeps auds in both adults 18-34 and 18-49 since November 1997 and its best among teens in its five-year history.

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