The first two games of the NBA Finals put NBC on top for the week, though the series got off to a dismal start.
Here's a look at the week's slam-dunks and fouls:
MSNBC and Fox News Channel's telecast of Sophie's choice. It was a ho-hum affair--Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth's youngest and least zippy son, marrying Sophie Rhys-Jones, his PR-exec girlfriend. But for MSNBC and Fox News Channel, it was the mother lode. The cable news networks went wall-to-wall wedding from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. MSNBC snared 1.71 million viewers and Fox News Channel 813,000, both beating CNN's 613,000 average as well as Headline News's 211,000. CNN and Headline both had intermittent coverage of the event during the three-hour block.
Regularly scheduled newsmagazines. In its first broadcast opposite CBS's summer "48 Hours" Monday edition, NBC's "Dateline" still managed to finish the week's highest rated newsmag among adults aged 25-54, which is the target demo for news shows. Meanwhile, CBS's Thursday "48 Hours" held its own opposite the debut of ABC's summer news program, "Vanished."
Blockbuster Awards. In its first year on Fox, the video-store trophy show garnered an average of 9.7 million viewers--nearly double its best audience in its three-year run on UPN.
"Everybody Loves Raymond." No. 5 for the week, the highest ranking ever for the CBS sitcom.
NBA Finals. Game 1 of this year's NBA Finals fell about 10 million viewers short of last year's starting game--Michael Jordan's swan song. And this year's Game 2, on Friday, was the least watched Finals broadcast since Game 5 in '94, which had been interrupted by the O.J. Simpson freeway chase. After two games, the San Antonio Spurs-New York Knicks matchup is on track to become the least watched NBA Finals series in more than a decade.
"Power Play." The debut of UPN's Canadian-made summer series was the wannabe network's second least watched program ever, with 1.05 million viewers. (The record for least watched show ever, formerly held by UPN's February '98 broadcast of an Olympics parody called "alt.games," is now held by the second--and surely the last--episode of "Power Play," which landed 830,000 viewers.)
"That '70s Show." For years, Fox tried to launch a live-action sitcom. This year, one finally gets some traction and what do the Fox guys do? Pull it to make way for more prime-time cartoons. This week, they returned "That '70s Show" to the schedule, in a new Monday 8 p.m. berth, where it promptly scored its smallest audience ever.
"Star Wars to Star Wars." Fox network's one-hour infomercial for parent 20th Century Fox's new "Star Wars" movie was the least watched original "entertainment" program in the network's Tuesday 9 p.m. hour in a year. There apparently is such a thing as too much hype.
"Geraldo Rivera Reports." The bad boy of TV news got whipped among young adults Sunday by a rerun of CBS's saintly "Touched by an Angel." That's gotta hurt.
"Pirates of Silicon Valley." TNT will tell you its mega-hyped "Pirates"--"seen for the first time anywhere" Sunday from 8 to 10 p.m.--averaged 5.9 million viewers. Not only is that 1.6 million shy of the debut of TNT's less-hyped record holder, "Purgatory," it wasn't even the real debut of "Pirates." "Pirates of Silicon Valley" debuted with an audience of 218,000 viewers, from 2 to 4 a.m. on May 23. The cable network sneaked it on the schedule that night to make the cutoff date for this year's Primetime Emmy competition. Only problem is, the Emmy rulebook says that to be eligible, a show must have aired between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.
The week's 10 most watched shows, in order, were: NBC's NBA Finals coverage, Game 1 and Game 2; CBS's "60 Minutes"; NBC's "Frasier" and "Friends"; CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Becker"; NBC's Thursday "Will & Grace"; CBS's "Touched by an Angel"; and NBC's Sunday movie "The Client."