More Big 4 ratings weakness

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CBS was the only network of the Big Four--ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox--not to lose viewers in the key 18-to-49-year-old category during prime time last week as the 1998-99 season kicked off. CBS pulled a 4.7 rating, 13 share (as measured by Nielsen Media Research) in the demographic category, which merely equaled its premiere week last year. NBC, without "Seinfeld" (and without the hype of last year's live "ER") was down 16% in this demo from a year ago, while ABC and Fox were down 4% and 7%, respectively. In adults 25 to 54, CBS was up 2% while NBC, ABC and Fox were down 13%, 5% and 7%, respectively. As network TV viewing continues to erode, all four networks were down in total primetime viewers compared to a year ago: 14% for NBC, 8% for Fox, 4% for ABC and 3% for CBS. CBS beat the other networks in total households; the last time the network did that in premiere week was 1992-93, the last season the network had the NFL. (NFL games resumed on CBS this season.) CBS also received a boost with the airing of the annual Country Music Association awards last Wednesday.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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