ABC Gets a Big Three From the NBA Finals
By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, June 16, 2004; Page C07
Three nights of drama, otherwise known as the Detroit Pistons' whomping of the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals, powered ABC to its first weekly win since it aired the Academy Awards in February.
Here's a look at the week's Wallaces and O'Neals:
NBA Finals games on Sunday, Thursday and last Tuesday were last week's No. 1, 2 and 3-ranked telecasts, respectively, marking the first time ABC has scored a hat trick since three episodes of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" dominated a week in August '01.
Ronald Reagan. More than 35 million caught Friday's prime-time coverage of the SoCal sunset burial service for the 40th president on the four major broadcast networks, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC. FNC's 10-11 p.m. coverage clocked more than 6 million viewers -- the largest audience for any cable telecast last week, beating even HBO's fourth-season debut of "Six Feet Under." Most of the carefully choreographed five-day-long pomp did not air in prime time; Friday's 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. live coverage of Reagan's state funeral at the Washington National Cathedral nonetheless drew nearly 21 million viewers to those same networks. The broadcast networks covered the long Reagan goodbye as "sustaining" programming, which is to say without advertising, and the numbers will not go in the Nielsen ratings books.
"Last Comic Standing." Despite claims by two of the show's celebrity judges that there was hanky-panky in the selection of contestants, nearly 11 million viewers tuned in to the second episode of this NBC reality series's second edition last Wednesday. That's a best-ever for the franchise.
"Summerland." WB's teen-angst soap delivered the week's biggest drama audience on any network among, um, teens. Among 18- to 49-year-olds, last week's second episode beat Fox, CBS and UPN in its Tuesday time slot. Suits at network parent Warner Bros. celebrated by sacking WB programming whiz Jordan Levin.
"Six Feet Under"/"Deadwood." The season debut of HBO's grim undertaker "comedy" delivered 4.2 million viewers Sunday at 9 p.m. That's nearly 1 million shy of the previous season's debut audience of 5.1 million. Yes, the previous season debuted in March rather than June -- not my problem. (The series's largest debut audience, for the second season in March '02, logged more than 6 million. Last time "Six Feet" debuted in June, in 2001, it registered 5 million viewers.) With so much smaller a lead-in audience than it had enjoyed with "The Sopranos," the "Deadwood" season finale dropped to 3.2 million viewers.
"Ultimate Love Test." When your new reality series gets beat among young viewers in its time slot by a CBS newsmagazine -- cut bait.
"The Jury." Fox's Tuesday debut of its courtroom drama averaged 4.2 million viewers; on the same night last year, Fox aired episodes of "American Juniors" and "Keen Eddie" and bagged nearly 7 million. Both of those shows were canceled.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: ABC's NBA Finals Games 4, 3 and 2; CBS's "CSI," "Without a Trace," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Two and a Half Men" and "CSI: Miami"; NBC's "Law & Order: SVU"; and CBS's "Cold Case."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Ron Reagan speaks at his father's burial ceremony Friday, watched by more than 35 million people.
(Carlo Allegri -- AP)
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