ABC Wins; Fox Beats Clay


Clay Aiken, the Christmas show on NBC, did not quite have the drawing power of, say, Clay Aiken, the American Idol contestant on Fox. Still Clay Aiken Christmas was good enough for third place from 8 p.m.-9 p.m., beating CBS' 60 Minutes but behind Fox's Billboard Music Awards and the night's powerhouse, ABC's Lost.

At a 7.0 rating/19 share, ABC's drama crushed the competition--the Billboard Awards were a distant second at a 2.8/8--and helped the network to a convincing win in the Nielsen prime time ratings in the key 18-49 demo on the night with a 5.7/15 average.

ABC won the 9-10 hour as well with a Barbara Walters special. Although Walters bowed out of 20/20, she remains a ratings force to be reckoned with, averaging a 5.4/14 with a look at the 10 Most Fascinating People.

It was not until 10 p.m. that ABC relinquished the lead to NBC's Law & Order, which won the hour with a 5.0/13. with the exception of Law & Order's 5.1/14 for its second half hour, no network besides ABC was able to crack a five rating in any half-hour.

Second for the night was NBC with a 3.5/9 for Clay's Christmas warbling, West Wing, and Law & Order, with West Wing hitting the night's average, Clay underperforming and Law & Order compensating for Clay.

CBS was a close third with a 3.4/9 for 60 Minutes, King of Queens, Center of the Universe, and CSI: NY. CSI was in the unaccostomed position of last in the time period, but it was a repeat going up against two originals.

Fox was third with a 3.1/8 for its awards show.

UPN beat out The WB on the strength of one of its  most consistent performers, America's Next Top Model, which averaged a 2.4/7 and built strongly in its second hour. Combined with Kevin Hill's less stellar 1.5/4 at 9-10, UPN's average for the night was a 2.0/5.

The WB was sixth with a 1.5/4 for back-to-back repeats of Smallville.