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NBA, `Millionaire' Overshadow Tonys

Updated:
NEW YORK (AP) — Broadway was no match for basketball and ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.''

The Tony Awards telecast Sunday night drew only 8.5 million viewers, despite Rosie O'Donnell's presence as host, Nielsen Media Research said Tuesday. The ratings are the lowest in the show's history.

The previous low came in 1996, the year before O'Donnell was host for the first time and briefly revived interest in the show. O'Donnell's presence after a one-year absence on Sunday didn't make much difference.

The Tonys, which even drew fewer viewers than ABC's telecast of the World Music Awards, competed directly with ABC's ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' and the gripping seventh game of the Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trailblazers NBA playoff contest on NBC.

Tonight marks the second matchup of the summer's most intriguing ratings contest: CBS's ``Survivor'' series against ``Millionaire.'' ABC has scheduled a special ``Millionaire'' against the CBS reality series for the second week in a row.

``Millionaire'' won last week, but just barely, as ``Survivor'' had a strong debut.

ABC's summer animated series, ``Clerks,'' had a mediocre showing with 7.3 million viewers for its premiere.

Buoyed by basketball, NBC narrowly took the week's ratings crown with a prime-time average of 10.6 million viewers (7.4 rating, 13 share). ABC had 10.5 million viewers (7.2, 13) and CBS had 9.8 million (7.0, 13). Fox had 6.5 million viewers (4.3, 8).

UPN had 3.4 million viewers (2.3, 4), the WB had 2.1 million viewers (1.6, 3) and Pax TV drew 1.2 million viewers (0.9, 2).

NBC's ``Nightly News'' won the evening news ratings race with 9.3 million viewers (7.0 rating, 16 share). ABC's ``World News Tonight'' had 8.4 million viewers (6.4, 15), and the ``CBS Evening News'' had 7.8 million viewers (6.0, 13).

A rating point represents 1,008,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 100.8 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of May 29-June 4, the top 10 shows, their networks and ratings were ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' (Thursday), ABC, 16.0; ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' (Tuesday), ABC, 15.1; ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' (Sunday), ABC, 14.4; ``NBA Playoffs: Portland at L.A. Lakers,'' NBC, 12.4; ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Wednesday), ABC, 11.8; ``Survivor,'' CBS, 10.3; ''60 Minutes,'' CBS, 10.2; ''60 Minutes II,'' CBS, 9.8; ''20/20 Downtown,'' ABC, 9.7; ``NBA Playoffs: L.A. Lakers at Portland,'' NBC, 9.3.

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On the Net: http://www.nielsenmedia.com
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