NBC Reaches Historic Ratings Low

Wednesday, August 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Beleaguered NBC hit a historic low in the ratings last week, dragged down by a virtually ignored repeat of ``The 10th Kingdom'' miniseries and coverage of the Republican national convention.

The network had an average prime-time audience of only 6.2 million people. Its 4.4 rating beat NBC's previous low for a week, set last summer, by more than a full ratings point or more than 1 million households.

NBC executives felt they had little choice but to rerun ``The 10th Kingdom'' to justify the expense of making it. The two-part conclusion on Sunday drew barely more than 4 million viewers.

The network's convention coverage also drew 16 percent fewer viewers than it did four years ago, the largest drop among the big three networks.

``Low ratings are not unexpected during political convention weeks,'' NBC spokesman Mike Nelson said. ``We also didn't have high expectations for the repeat of a miniseries.''

It was also a record low rating within the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that NBC watches most closely. ABC, CBS and Fox all did better among that age group.

NBC's top entertainment executives have already been under some fire from their bosses for failing to develop a new hit like CBS' ``Survivor'' or ABC's ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.''

``Survivor'' continued rolling for CBS, with another record-high viewership of 27.4 million, and ``Big Brother'' drew its biggest audience on Wednesday — 17.4 million — since its premiere. But three episodes of ``Millionaire'' enabled ABC to win the week.

Despite good reviews, Fox's new reality show, ``American High,'' was the network's lowest-rated series of the week.

ABC had a prime-time average of 9.2 million people (6.4 rating, 12 share), CBS had 8.6 million viewers (6.0, 11) and Fox had 5.9 million viewers (3.9, 7). UPN had 3.4 million viewers (2.2, 4), the WB had 2.6 million (1.8, 3) and Pax TV had 1.3 million (1.0, 2).

NBC's ``Nightly News'' won the evening news ratings race during convention week with 9 million viewers (6.9 rating, 15 share). ABC's ``World News Tonight'' had 7.8 million viewers (6.1, 14) and the ``CBS Evening News had 7.1 million (5.6, 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 July 31-Aug. 6, the top 10 shows, their networks and ratings:

``Survivor,'' CBS, 16.7; ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' (Sunday), ABC, 15.4; ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' (Tuesday), ABC, 14.3; ``Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' (Thursday), ABC, 12.4; ``Big Brother'' (Wednesday), CBS, 11.1; ''60 Minutes,'' CBS, 9.9; ``Everybody Loves Raymond,'' CBS, 9.0; ``The Practice,'' ABC, 8.4; ``Becker,'' CBS, 8.3; NFL Exhibition Football: San Francisco vs. New England, ABC, 7.3; ``Law and Order'' (Monday), NBC, 7.3.