For the week ending Feb. 2, which included the first weekend of the February
sweep, the coverage of the loss of the space shuttle Columbia caused major
pre-emptions for the weekly hours cleared on network affiliates as the networks went
to blanket coverage of the tragedy for much of Saturday, Feb. 1.
In addition, cable news took a big bite out of viewership to the shows that
Cable News Network viewing, for example, more than quintupled between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
compared with the prior Saturday.
Four of the top 12 weekly hours were off by double-digits from
already-reduced levels due to Super Bowl pre-emptions Jan. 26.
Entertainment Tonight Weekend was down 12 percent to a 3.6, although it remained the top
Stargate SG-1 was down 19 percent to a 2.1 for a fifth-place tie with
Mutant X, itself down 9 percent.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was down 25 percent to a 1.8, finishing in a tie for 11th place
with rookie She Spies, which was down 10 percent.
Finishing in a tie for second behind ET Weekend was The
Practice, down 8 percent to a 2.4. It was tied with The X-Files, which was
The week also included the first two weekdays of the sweep.
Although viewing might have been expected to get a pop from extra sweeps
promotion, most strips were little changed from the prior week, having already
got a pop of sorts from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and cold weather the week
before, which helped to boost viewing.
In fact, without the holiday and the freezing temps, HUT (households using television) levels were down the
week ending Feb. 2 between 5 percent and 31 percent.
The top game show, Wheel of Fortune, was up 1 percent to a new season high of
10.3, the only game to improve.
Friends was the top off-net sitcom, down 1 percent to a 7.8 (none of the
top 10 off-net sitcoms were up).
ET was the top mag, despite a 2 percent decline to a 6.3.
Oprah, the top talker, was up 4 percent to a 5.8.
Top court show Judge Judy was down 3 percent to a 5.7.
Dr. Phil was the top rookie at a 5.2, down 4 percent.
Much watched newcomer Good Day Live, in its fourth week in national
syndication, was down 10 percent to a 0.9.