CBS recovered from a chronic case of black eye to win both the May sweeps and the season for the first time since 1983. Lloyd Braun, president of the entertainment division of rival ABC, which won the ratings crown last year and narrowly lost out this year, told The Associated Press Thursday: “It’s probably the most competitive season we’ve seen in a very long time. … All of us are one big hit away from being No. 1. We didn’t have the big hit this year. CBS did.” Braun was referring to ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, which dominated the ratings last year and CBS’s Survivor, which overwhelmed the competition this year. Ironically, despite the CBS win, the network’s magazine show 60 Minutes failed to make the season’s top-ten list for the first time since the 1976-77 season. (It placed 15th.) Nevertheless, NBC finished the season with the numbers that counted the most — those for 18-49-year-old viewers, which advertisers prize (and are willing to pay a premium to reach). [Even so, the Wall Street Journal indicated Friday that NBC may find the going tough attracting ad buyers. It quoted John Muszynski, a top media buyer for Starcom, as saying that last year NBC “really gouged some people and many of those advertisers have not forgotten.”]
The top 10 shows of the season, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. Survivor 2: The Australian Outback, CBS, 29.8 million viewers; 2. E.R., NBC, 22.4 million; 3. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Wednesdays), ABC, 20.1 million; 4. Friends, NBC, 19.7 million; 5. Millionaire (Sundays), ABC, 19.4 million; 6. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 19.0 million; 7. Millionaire (Tuesdays), ABC, 18.9 million; 8. Monday Night Football, NBC, 18.5 million; 8. (Tie) The Practice, ABC, 18.5 million; 10. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 17.5 million.