CBS, NBC in tight Monday battle

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

CBS, with the men’s college basketball championship game, and NBC, behind “Fear Factor” and “Average Joe,” finished in a virtual tie for Monday’s lead among adults 18-49, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen. The Eye led in total viewers and male demos while the Peacock scored with femmes.

Reliable prelim national numbers weren’t available for the NCAA men’s basketball matchup between Connecticut and Georgia Tech, but its metered-market overnight household score (11.2 rating/17 share) came in below last year’s 12.6/18 for Syracuse-Kansas. Game was not very competitive in the second half, with Connecticut cruising to victory.

Over at NBC, “Fear Factor” kicked things off in its usual winning manner (5.3/16 in adults 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall) and the limited-run “Average Joe: Adam Returns” concluded with a solid 5.0/13 in adults 18-49 and 10.9 million viewers overall. “Joe” peaked in the 10:30 half-hour with 20 shares in key female demos.

ABC did OK with its three hour spec “Peter Jennings Reporting: Jesus and Paul” (3.0/8 in adults 18-49, million viewers overall), while Fox ran fourth with its comedy lineup, led by an hour of “That ’70s Show” repeats from 9 to 10 that averaged a 3.3/8 in adults 18-49 and 6.7 million viewers overall.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 5.1/14; CBS, 5.0/13; ABC, 3.0/8; Fox, 2.6/7; WB, 1.3/4; UPN, 1.1/3.

In total viewers: CBS, 14.4 million; NBC, 11.4 million, tied with ABC, 11.4 million; Fox, 5.3 million; WB, 3.7 million; UPN, 2.5 million.

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