A three-hour football game was the week's most watched show and had ABC in the prime-time lead till the start of the weekend. Then it fumbled and gave CBS the weekly win with an average of 9 million viewers.
Here's a look at the week's touchdowns and penalties:
The AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game. The week's most watched program delivered 14.8 million viewers--ABC's biggest Monday audience since back in the February sweeps. Which brings us to a very good point--you can do February-sweeps-like numbers in the dead of summer if you just put on something people want to watch!
"Rockford Files." James Garner rules! The septuagenarian star, reprising a role he first did more than 20 years ago, handed CBS a rare Thursday win, edging out NBC's "Must See TV" lineup (see Losers).
"48 Hours." Tuesday's summer edition of the CBS newsmagazine did its best numbers so far this season, while Thursday's edition edged out "ER" for the fifth time.
Teen Choice Awards. Fox's made-for-TV teen trophy show was the No. 1 show of the week among teens! An "astonishing" 41 percent of female teens watching TV in the Thursday 8-10 p.m. time slot were tuned to the Teen Choice Awards! It's the most watched special on any network by teens since the Academy Awards! Why is Fox so surprised!?!
"First Daughter." TNT's debut of the Mariel Hemingway made-for-TV movie--about the abduction of the First Daughter--scored 7.669 million viewers--the biggest audience ever for a basic-cable movie. For comparison's sake, pay-cabler HBO's premiere telecast of the feature film "Titanic" scored 8.6 million viewers. But "First Daughter" was outmuscled by USA Network's Monday 10 p.m. wrestling, with 7.701 million viewers, for the week's top-cable slot.
"Dateline" Monday: The week's most watched newsmagazine.
"20/20" Wednesday: At 10 o'clock, the night's most watched show. It included a timely segment about the Los Angeles Jewish community center shooting, and it outpaced NBC's 8 p.m. "Dateline," which was locked in to airing a Katie Couric-anchored special on teen violence.
"48 Hours." Tuesday's summer edition of the CBS newsmagazine did its best numbers so far this season; Thursday's edition edged out "ER" for the fifth time this season.
"Homicide: Life on the Street." The NBC cop drama broke the previous week's record to endure its smallest audience ever. Too bad NBC didn't let this critically acclaimed show, which has always done poorly in reruns, go out in style by not repeating episodes this summer.
NBC's Thursday. When "ER" is only doing a slightly better number than "Jesse," that spells trouble. Which is why NBC finished second to CBS on Thursday night. NBC is going to call The TV Column today to point out that, while finishing first among total viewers last Thursday, CBS finished fourth among adults 18-49. NBC, the network will note, finished first in the demo that is used to set ad rates, which is how the TV business is run today, blah, blah, blah. We will respond by noting that there were more non-18-to-49-year-olds watching NBC last week than there were 18-to-49-year-olds (which makes you wonder why, with the broadcast audience shrinking and all, NBC continues to treat them like second-class citizens).
"Drew Carey." ABC's Wednesday anchor show last week suffered its smallest audience ever for a regularly scheduled episode. Of course its lead-in, "The Norm Show," was a ratings black hole, which didn't help.
The week's 10 most watched shows, in order, were: ABC's Hall of Fame football game coverage; CBS's "60 Minutes"; NBC's "Friends"; CBS's "Touched by an Angel"; NBC's Monday "Dateline"; CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond"; ABC's Wednesday "20/20"; NBC's "Frasier"; CBS's Thursday movie "The Rockford Files"; and NBC's "Law & Order."