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May 21, 2003
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Sweeps has ABC on ropes
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By Brian Lowry

National prime-time TV rankings

Network averages

Southland TV rankings

Already destined to place fourth for the May rating sweeps, ABC faces two dubious cliffhangers as the TV season ratings race nears the finish line, with Fox breathing down its neck in total viewing and CBS looking to edge it out among key adult demographics, based on viewing estimates issued Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.

Fox -- which through Sunday trails ABC by a mere 150,000 viewers in an average minute of prime time -- figures to get a significant boost from the "American Idol" finale tonight, marking the official end of the TV season that began in September. Fox has never beaten one of the three elder networks in total audience for the season.

CBS, the most-watched network, is also neck-and-neck with ABC among young-adult demographics. ABC is assured a fourth-place finish by both measures for the current sweeps, which also concludes tonight.

NBC helped its cause Sunday with back-to-back episodes of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," which drew a larger audience than "The Bachelor" finale and CBS' miniseries "Hitler: The Rise of Evil." "Friends" also surged with its expanded ninth-season finale.

"Dawson's Creek's" series finale scored a demographic coup, attracting the WB network's highest ratings ever among young adults age 18 to 34, a core audience for the network.

The NBA basketball playoffs provided a lift to TNT, which averaged 3 million viewers last week.

Prime-Time TV Rankings
Here are the rankings for national prime-time network television last week (May 12-18) as compiled by Nielsen Media Research. They are based on the average number of people who watched a program from start to finish. Nielsen estimates there are 272.04 million potential viewers in the U.S. age 2 and older. Viewership is listed in millions.

2.American Idol (Wed.)FOX25.35
4.American Idol (Tue.)FOX23.36
6.Will & GraceNBC20.28
7.Everybody Loves RaymondCBS18.71
8.Law and OrderNBC18.33
9.CSI: MiamiCBS17.23
10.Law and Order: Criminal Intent (10 p.m.)NBC16.16
11.Bernie MacFOX15.84
12.Without a TraceCBS15.66
13.Still StandingCBS15.46
15.Law and Order: Criminal IntentNBC14.46
16.The West WingNBC13.79
17.Law and Order: SVUNBC13.72
18."Hitler: The Rise of Evil," Part 1CBS13.62
19.That '70s ShowFOX13.57
20.The Simpsons (8:30)FOX13.44
21.60 MinutesCBS12.94
22.Judging AmyCBS12.79
25.CSI (8 p.m.)CBS12.30
26.Yes, DearCBS12.28
27.The SimpsonsFOX12.10
28.NYPD BlueABC 11.77
29.The GuardianCBS11.71
30.King of QueensCBS11.58
31.Fear FactorNBC11.04
32.Malcolm in the MiddleFOX10.83
33.CSI (Fri., 10 p.m.)CBS10.74
34.Star SearchCBS10.61
35.60 Minutes IICBS10.57
36.Malcolm in the Middle (9:30 p.m.)FOX10.48
38.The DistrictCBS10.41
39.Star Search (Wed.)CBS10.38
40."Bachelor: Women Tell All"ABC10.09
41."Behind the Camera: Three's Company"NBC9.91
42.Extreme Makeover (Wed.)ABC9.81
43.Law and Order: SVU (Sat.)NBC9.71
44.48 Hours InvestigatesCBS9.65
45.Dateline: NBC (Tue.)NBC9.64
46.CSI (Fri., 9 p.m.)CBS9.59
47."NBA Playoffs"ABC9.48
48.Dateline: NBC (Wed.)NBC9.27
49.My Wife and KidsABC9.21
50.Law and Order: SVUNBC9.10
51.American DreamsNBC9.02
52.According to Jim (9 p.m.)ABC9.00
53.The AgencyCBS8.73
54.Boston PublicFOX8.71
55."Daytime Emmy Awards"ABC8.63
56.George LopezABC8.47
57."Price Is Right: Million 6"CBS8.38
58.Less Than PerfectABC7.79
59.8 Simple RulesABC7.45
60.Watching EllieNBC7.44
61.America's Most WantedFOX7.36
62."Most Outrageous Game Show Moments 5"NBC7.35
63.Dawson's CreekWB7.30
64."Me, Myself and Irene"FOX7.23
65."All ABC Bloopers"ABC7.18
66."NBA Playoffs Postgame"ABC7.10
68.7th HeavenWB7.05
69.King of the HillFOX7.04
70.Mr. PersonalityFOX7.03
Dateline: NBC (Sun.)NBC7.03
72.According to JimABC6.87
73.Cops (8:30 p.m.)FOX6.63
74."The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer"ABC6.42
75.Law and Order (Sat.)NBC6.38
76.Dateline: NBC (Fri.)NBC6.32
77."The Waterboy"ABC6.25
78."Charlie's Angels"ABC6.23
81.WWE Smackdown!UPN5.05
82.Gilmore GirlsWB5.04
83.King of the Hill (7 p.m.)FOX4.84
84."Tim Allen Presents"ABC4.75
85."Most Outrageous Game Show Moments 5"NBC4.66
87.Buffy the Vampire SlayerUPN4.06
88.Half and HalfUPN4.04
89."Married With Children Reunion"FOX3.97
90.One on OneUPN3.64
92.Enterprise (9 p.m.)UPN3.54
95.The ParkersUPN3.06
97."Celebrity Look-a-Likes"WB2.11
98."Thin Line Between Love and Hate"WB2.05
99.Jamie KennedyWB2.04
100."Outrageous Outtakes"WB1.90
101."Interview With the Vampire"UPN1.66


Network averages
Here is the number of viewers (in millions) that each network averaged per hour of prime time, for last week and for the season.

NetworkLast weekSeason to date


Southland TV rankings
Here are the 10 most-watched prime-time programs in the L.A. market last week, based on the average number of households.

ProgramNat'l RankStationHouseholds
1.Lakers vs. Spurs (Thu.)47KABC1,080,000
3.American Idol (Wed.)2KTTV834,000
4.Lakers-Spurs Postgame66KABC785,000
6.Will & Grace6KNBC771,000
7.American Idol (Tue.)4KTTV759,000
9.Fear Factor31KNBC588,000
10.Law & Order8KNBC583,000


Source: CBS; Nielsen Media Research

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