NBC won the first full week of the summer rerun season, thanks to its Thursday lineup and NBA conference finals coverage. But its Thursday tally was nothing to rave about as "Jesse" returned to suck the life out of the night. Meanwhile, the weekend's Tony telecast on CBS got tattered, ratings-wise, with Rosie O'Donnell out of the picture.
Here's a look at the week's hits and flops:
"Touched by an Angel." CBS's Sunday series, bagging 13.4 million viewers, aced NBC's "ER" (13.0 million) for the week's top drama spot.
"Whose Line Is It Anyway?" ABC's Wednesday rerun was the night's highest-rated program among adults ages 18 to 49, advertisers' favorite age bracket (you know the drill). It also snared 10,000 more viewers than its "Drew Carey" lead-in. In other words, the improv show repeats well. That and the fact that it costs a nickel to make, compared with a sitcom, should make it the darling of ABC. Instead, the network is sending it to the sure-death Thursday 8 p.m. time slot opposite "Friends" this fall.
"3rd Rock From the Sun." NBC's Sunday "encore presentation" (we like to call them reruns) of the "3rd Rock" season finale bagged about half a million more viewers than the first time it ran, the previous week, opposite ABC's "Home Improvement" series so-long. Which leaves you wondering why NBC hung it out to dry the first go 'round.
1999 Essence Awards. After plunging to 6.6 million viewers in '96, the African American awards show, on Fox, is up to 7.3 million viewers. That's still shy of the 8.2 million in '97, but at least it's pointed in the right direction.
Alma Awards. In its second year on ABC, the Latino awards show grew by nearly 1 million viewers vs. its debut.
Tony Awards. A bevy of Hollywood presenters couldn't compensate for the loss of emcee O'Donnell. After impressive ratings improvement the past two years with her at the helm, the legit theater awards show fell to 9.16 million viewers--putting it too near the small audiences it suffered before O'Donnell came to the rescue in '97, when it drew 13 million.
"Thanks of a Grateful Nation," Part 2. Part 1 tanked the previous Sunday, so it was no surprise that the second half did also on Monday. Of course, bouncing the movie's air time around in various parts of the country to make way for basketball didn't help.
"Sex in the City." The second-season debut of HBO's sex sitcom averaged 2.9 million viewers from 9 to 9:30 Sunday night. Last year at about this time, the series debuted with an audience of 3.7 million. At 9:30 Sunday, HBO's "Arli$$" season starter lost some "Sex" ground, averaging 2.7 million viewers, though that was better than the 2.3 million viewers who had tuned in to last season's kickoff.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: NBC's "Frasier" and "Friends"; ABC's Wednesday "20/20"; CBS's "Touched by an Angel" and "60 Minutes"; NBC's "Will & Grace" and "ER"; CBS's Tuesday movie "Heart of Fire"; NBC's "Law & Order" and Tuesday "Dateline."