Network News Shows Tighten Ratings Race

NEW YORK — The “CBS Evening News” scored a ratings victory last week for the first time since July 1998. After winning in the ratings for 53 straight weeks, NBC has lost three out of the last five weeks _ twice to ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

NBC explains the sudden slump by pointing out that its audience, slightly younger than its competitors, has a greater tendency to drift away during daylight savings time.

NBA finals on NBC and Stanley Cup playoffs on ABC last week also pre-empted the news on those networks twice each in some markets out West, helping CBS’ viewership.

The “CBS Evening News” averaged 8.3 million viewers last week (6.2 rating, 14 share). NBC had 8.2 million (6.1, 14) and ABC had 7.8 million (6.1, 14).

Three games of the unexpectedly hot NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers were the three most-watched prime-time programs of the week, leading NBC to a comfortable ratings win.

Two editions of the CBS newsmagazine “48 Hours,” which slumped in the ratings this year, hit the Nielsen Media Research top 10 last week.

For the week, NBC had 11.4 million viewers (7.7, 14), CBS had 9.3 million (6.7, 12), ABC had 7.3 million (5.0, 9), Fox had 5.9 million (3.9, 7), UPN had 3.2 million (2.1, 4), the WB had 2.5 million (1.8, 3) and Pax TV had 1.4 million (1.0, 2).

A ratings point represents 1,022,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 102.2 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of June 4-10, the top 10 shows, their networks and ratings: NBA Finals Game 3: L.A. Lakers at Philadelphia, NBC, 12.7; NBA Finals Game 1: Philadelphia at L.A. Lakers, NBC, 12.4; NBA Finals Game 2: Philadelphia at L.A. Lakers, NBC, 11.6; “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Tuesday), ABC, 10.3; “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 9.7; “48 Hours” (Monday), CBS, 9.4; “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Sunday), ABC, 9.2; “48 Hours,” CBS, 9.1; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 9.0; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.8.

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