USA, Lifetime battling for 1st place


The next time network executives say they don't care about Nielsen Media
Research household numbers, remember The Waterboy.

With the second quarter almost over, Lifetime Television and USA Network
brass are 'angsting' over who will win the neck-and-neck race in primetime.

Lifetime wants to claim its second consecutive victory in quarterly household
ratings. But USA on Thursday abruptly yanked Demi Moore flick Indecent
from its Sunday schedule and substituted its fifth run in two weeks
of Adam Sandler comedy The Waterboy (which scored a huge 5.0 in one of
its airings).

Rounding the numbers could leave them tied at a 1.8. At press time, Lifetime
was a few hundredths ahead of that, USA a few hundredths behind.

Despite the last-second lunge, USA contended that strong demos will lead to
bigger spoils from advertisers. 'Household ratings are a nice way of keeping
track, but it's not the way the business runs,' USA Cable senior vice president
of research Ray Giacopelli said.