ABC experienced its worst Tuesday-night ratings results this week since 1987, averaging a 6.5 rating and a 10 share -- representing just 7.9 million viewers.
"ABC didn't just edge out its previous Tuesday low of 9 million -- it blew past it," commented the Washington Post's TV writer, Lisa de Moraes. The network was particularly hard hit by a woeful 5.6/8 for its new comedy, Bob Patterson, starring Jason Alexander, a 30-percent drop from its already dismal premiere a week earlier. Steve Bochco's new drama Philly also got no brotherly love, falling to a 6.9/11 from last week's 7.6/12.
Programs on the six television networks drew only 44 percent of television viewers last week, with the 56-percent majority tuning in to independent stations, cable, pay-TV or public broadcasting, according to figures released by Nielsen Research Tuesday. Those who did watch, were drawn primarily to reality shows, particularly ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which took the top three positions on the Nielsen list. The Regis Philbin-hosted quiz show helped give ABC a win for the week, despite the fact that the network averaged only a 5.7 rating and a 10 share. NBC was in second place with a 5.5/10. CBS was close behind with a 5.3/10, while Fox finished last among the major networks with a 3.6/7. The biggest surprise of the week was the eighth-place finish of ABC's new The Wayne Brady Show, which was the No. 1 show in the 18-49-year-old demo. Commenting on the result, Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes observed Wednesday: "Wonder why network suits have been saying for so many years that the prime-time variety show genre is kaput. Maybe they're all just too old to get it."
The top 10 shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Thursday), ABC, 9.2/15; 2. Millionaire (Sunday), ABC, 9.0/15; 3. Millionaire (Tuesday), ABC, 8.8/16; 4. Dateline NBC (Monday), NBC, 8.4/15; 5. Law and Order, NBC, 8.2/15; 6. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 8.1/14; 7. 60 Minutes, CBS, 8.0/16; 8. Weakest Link, NBC, 7.5/12; 9. Becker, CBS, 7.4/12; 10. 20/20 (Friday), ABC, 7.3/14.