NBC Is Sweeps 'First Nighter'

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The first night of the February sweeps was pretty competitive among the Big Three networks, with NBC winning the night in the key 18-49 demo with a 6.9 rating/17 share in Nielsen overnight numbers. Its top show was ER at 10 p.m., which won its time period handily with an 8.8/22.

The Apprentice also performed well for the network at 9-10, building from a 6.9/16 in its first half hour to a 7.6/17 in its second to come in second behind CSI.

CBs was second with a 6.2/15, primarily on the strength of CSI, which won its time period with an 8.8/21, far outdistancing the CIS repeat that preceded it (3.7/10).

ABC was third for the night with a 5.2/13.

The order of finish was the same as the previous Thursday night. But only 1.7 rating points separated first place from third Feb. 4, compared to almost five rating points separating NBC from ABC the week before.

Viewership was also up by 5 million households over the previous Thursday for the sweeps debut.

The network started strong, winning the first hour of prime time with the first hour of its two-hour Happy Days reunion special (6.2/16). The show tied for tops over the first two hours, with a 6.3/15. But ABC's average was dragged down by Prime Time Live at 10, which could only muster a 2.

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