Viewers Love "Lucy," "Private Ryan"

I Love Lucy, CMA Awards give CBS weekly ratings win; ABC scores with uncensored Saving Private Ryan

By Mark Armstrong Nov 13, 2001 7:15 PMTags
For however many bajillion times we've seen the reruns, viewers still love Lucy.

Thanks to specials like I Love Lucy's 50th anniversary and the Country Music Association Awards (and powerful weekly performers C.S.I., Everybody Loves Raymond and Survivor: Africa), CBS nabbed a ratings victory for the first full week of November sweeps.

Country music's big night scored 17.8 million viewers Wednesday--up 7 percent from last year's record-low performance--and enough to give CBS its first Wednesday win of the season. A day later, Survivor pulled in its largest audience since its premiere (20.5 million viewers), thanks to some tribal shuffling.

And on Sunday, CBS' legendary redhead, Lucille Ball, finished in second place for the night, drawing a healthy 17.6 million viewers.

The I Love Lucy retrospective was topped only by the ABC broadcast of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, which ran unedited Sunday (except, of course, for commercials) and averaged 17.9 million viewers--the best audience for a theatrical in two years. The win helped ABC hang onto third place for the week, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Fox, meanwhile, saw mixed results from its post-World Series premiere lineup. Despite loads of hype and critical praise, the new Kiefer Sutherland real-time thriller 24 premiered Tuesday in a disappointing fourth place (11.6 million viewers), behind ABC's first-place season premiere of NYPD Blue (15.8 million viewers).

Fox saw better results from 24 when it faced less competition in a Friday-night repeat. The Murdoch network also welcomed the strong Sunday-night returns of King of the Hill (11.1 million viewers), The Simpsons (14.9 million) and Malcolm in the Middle (15.5 million).

Some viewers, meanwhile, don't seem to care if the truth is really out there anymore, as The X-Files lost a full 22 percent of Malcolm's lead-in audience. And on Thursday night, The Tick (6.7 million viewers) and Temptation Island 2 (6.8 million) fared okay--even if they were overshadowed by CBS and NBC.

Overall, CBS averaged 14.4 million viewers for the week ended November 11, followed by NBC with 12.6 million, ABC with 11.3 million and Fox with 9.6 million. NBC once again claimed the ratings crown among the advertiser-friendly adults 18-49 demographic, thanks to first-place ER and a special post-Friends episode of Will & Grace.

Among the junior networks, UPN topped the WB among total viewers (4.8 million versus 4.3 million) and adults 18-49 (2.2 rating/6 share versus 1.8 rating/5 share). Enterprise, WWF Smackdown! and Buffy the Vampire Slayer remained the network's top performers, but even a special musical edition of Buffy (5.4 million) couldn't beat the WB's ladies of Tuesday night, Gilmore Girls (6.1 million).

Here's a rundown of the week's top 10 shows among total viewers:

1. ER, NBC, 26.8 million viewers
2. C.S.I., CBS, 25.1 million
3. Friends, NBC, 24.2 million
4. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 21.7 million
5. Survivor: Africa, CBS, 20.5 million
6. Will & Grace (Thursday 8:30), NBC, 20.1 million
7. The West Wing, NBC, 19.5 million
8. Will & Grace, NBC, 19.2 million
9. Law & Order, NBC, 19 million
10. ABC Sunday Movie: Saving Private Ryan, ABC, 17.9 million