NETWORKS FINISH TIGHT RACE FOR 18-49 AGE GROUP

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(May 25, 2001) -- Three broadcast networks are claiming good results for the just completed broadcast season -- one of the tightest ever in terms of rating performance.

NBC won most important category, representing viewers age 18 to 49, CBS lead with overall viewers, and Fox took the adults 18 to 34 crown -- as well as title of "most improved" of any of the big four networks across a number of areas.

In the the key adults 18 to 49 race, NBC scored a Nielsen 4.8 rating and 13 share, barely beating out Fox's 4.5 rating and 12 share, which grew 7% year-to-year in the category. (Each rating point represents 1.022 million households; a share is the percentage of households where TVs are turned on.) While CBS also grew 7% in the adults 18 to 49 to a 4.0 rating and 11 share, the network still sits in fourth place behind ABC's 4.4 rating and 12 share, which sank 20% year-to-year.

The WB also improved after last season's hiccup, when it lost its WGN Superstation coverage. It gained 19% in adults 18 to 34 and 18% in adults 18 to 49. UPN lost 12% in adults 18 to 34, gained 7% in adults 25 to 54, and was even in adults 18 to 49.

The top-rated regularly scheduled show was CBS's Survivor: The Australian Outback, with 29.76 million average viewers per broadcast. In second place was NBC's ER, averaging 22.44 million viewers. -- Wayne Friedman

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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