Boosted by an historic nail-biter and the largest World Series audience in a decade, Fox slugged its way past CBS and NBC to score a first-place finish in the weekly Nielsen ratings. Sunday's Game 7 finale between the Yankees and Diamondbacks pulled in a whopping 39.1 million viewers to become the most-watched show of the week, while the rest of Fox's coverage dominated Nielsen's top 10.
All told, the seven-game series averaged 21 million viewers for Fox. That's a 26 percent improvement over last year's record-low New York Yankees-Mets Subway Series, but only the most-watched World Series since 1997, when NBC broadcast the seven-game matchup between the Florida Marlins and Cleveland Indians.
Still, Fox's national pastime-powered victory was expected to give the network a running start as it finally unveiled its fall lineup this week.
The baseball thriller also was enough to push CBS' coverage of the 53rd Annual Emmy Awards down to 18th place for the week ended November 4. No thanks to unusually tough November sweeps competition, Sunday's Emmycast drew 17.1 million viewers--the show's smallest audience since 1990.
CBS hands some blame to those spoilers over at Fox. The network was reportedly steamed that Fox decided to take Ellen DeGeneres up on her Emmy-night jokes and run a crawling ticker under the game, posting names of the night's Emmy winners before the ceremony even aired on the West Coast.
CBS will, however, have its chance for revenge--when Fox hosts the Emmys again in 2003. All's fair in love and network programming.
Despite the sneaky moves, CBS landed in second place for the week, averaging 12.9 million viewers, followed by NBC, which averaged 12.3 million for third place. Thanks to the Yanks, Fox booted NBC from its top spot among adults 18-49, the demographic embraced by TV's advertising weasels.
Baseball and the Emmys all but crowded out the debut of NBC's epic miniseries Uprising. The two-part film, starring Jon Voight, Leelee Sobieski, Hank Azaria and David Schwimmer in the Warsaw ghetto story, settled for third place Sunday night, averaging 13 million viewers (32nd place).
It wasn't alone. With baseball dominating TV sets, no new series was able to break into Nielsen's top 30. The highest-ranking rookie was CBS' Tuesday hit The Guardian, which landed in 34th place with 12.9 million viewers.
Viewers (well, at least a couple of 'em) also said goodbye last week to ABC's Jason Alexander clunker Bob Patterson (63rd place, 7.9 million viewers) and NBC's half-baked cooking comedy Emeril, which averaged 6.7 million viewers before heading to the warming oven (70th place).
Among the Halloween offerings, baseball apparently gave viewers a craving for Peanuts (har-har) as ABC's It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown took a respectable third place Tuesday behind Fox's World Series coverage and CBS' JAG. The Alphabet net then dropped 1.3 million viewers during a rerun of Boo to You, Winnie the Pooh.
All told, ABC landed in a distant fourth place for the week ended November 4, averaging 9.7 million viewers--down a painful 22 percent compared to the same week last year.
Among the junior networks, UPN once again led the way, thanks to another strong week of Enterprise (7.2 million viewers) and WWF Smackdown! (6.2 million). The network averaged 4.8 million viewers for a fifth-place finish.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer remained strong on its "same time, new network," nabbing 5.2 million viewers last week. But it continues to get overshadowed on Tuesday nights by the WB's successful Tuesday twosome, Gilmore Girls (5.6 million) and Smallville (6 million). Overall, the Frog network remained ribbited in sixth place, with 4.1 million viewers.
Here's a rundown of the week's top 10 shows among total viewers:
1. World Series Game 7, Fox, 39.1 million viewers
2. Friends, NBC, 27 million
3. ER, NBC, 24.7 million
4. World Series Game 4, Fox, 23.7 million
5. World Series Game 3, Fox, 23.4 million
6. C.S.I., CBS, 23.2 million
7. World Series Game 6, Fox, 22.7 million
8. Friends (Thursday, 8:30), NBC, 22.2 million
9. World Series Game 5, Fox, 21.2 million
10. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 20.7 million