Originally created 07/22/98

Newsmagazines continue their summer success



NEW YORK -- Summer television viewers continue to show their preference for reality over entertainment, with newsmagazines claiming the top four positions in last week's Nielsen Media Research prime-time rankings.

NBC and CBS tied for the week's ratings crown, although NBC had a slight edge in the total number of viewers, Nielsen said Tuesday.

Newsmagazines are hotter than ever during the season of entertainment reruns, even though many of the news shows also use older material. It shows viewers have a taste for true stories with a touch of drama, said Susan Zirinsky, executive producer of CBS's "48 Hours."

"It really has resonated with viewers this summer more than ever before," she said. "I'm hoping that it's a harbinger of things to come because in the fall, we're going to have a huge number of newsmagazines."

CBS's Monday edition of "48 Hours," ranked third in last week's ratings behind "60 Minutes" and "Dateline NBC" and ahead of "PrimeTime Live," is the news phenomenon of the summer.

The Monday "48 Hours" updates previously broadcast stories under the tag, "48 Hours Mysteries." For example, a story on a Texas murderer was rerun with footage added from a sentencing that had taken place a few days earlier.

Zirinsky's newsmagazine, on the brink of cancellation a year ago, rebounded in the ratings this year despite running opposite NBC's "ER" in its regular Thursday time slot.

She cites the show's decision to go back to its original idea of focusing on one story a week in a narrative format instead of showing a collection of different stories.

For the week, NBC and CBS had identical 6.4 ratings and 12 shares. ABC had a 5.6 rating and 11 share, Fox had a 4.4 rating and 9 share, the WB had a 2.6 rating and 5 share and UPN had a 1.7 rating and 3 share.

Viewers weren't very nostalgic about two long-running shows with final episodes last week. CBS's "Cybill" finished in 23rd place for the week and Urkel's finale on "Family Matters" sunk to a 71st place showing.

The "CBS Evening News" posted a win in the tight evening news race with a 6.8 rating and 16 share. NBC's "Nightly News" was second with a 6.7 and 17. ABC's "World News Tonight," which finished first last week, was third at 6.6 and 15.

A rating point represents 980,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 98 million TV homes. Share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

Top-rated:

For the week of July 13-19, the top 10 shows, their networks and ratings were:

  • "60 Minutes," CBS, 11.0;

  • "Dateline NBC-Tuesday," NBC, 10.4;

  • "48 Hours-Monday," CBS, 10.1;

  • "PrimeTime Live," ABC, 9.6;

  • "Just Shoot Me," NBC, 9.3;

  • "ER," NBC, 9.2;

  • "Frasier," NBC, 9.0;

  • "Seinfeld," NBC, 9.0;

  • "20/20," ABC, 8.4; "Friends," NBC, 8.2;

  • "3rd Rock From the Sun," NBC, 8.2.