Ed Bradley's interview with former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey, who accused President Clinton of making unwanted sexual advances, helped "60 Minutes" finish on top of the week's television ratings for the first time in four years.
The venerable CBS newsmagazine last topped the ratings in January 1994, when it was helped by an NFL football playoff preceding it.NBC won the prime-time crown in a week where TV viewership was down with a 9.2 rating and 15 share, Nielsen Media Research said this week. CBS was second with an 8.8 rating and 15 share, followed by ABC's 8.4 rating and 14 share and Fox's 7.1 rating and 12 share.
"60 Minutes"' average audience of 28.7 million people on Sunday easily outdrew its nearest competitor last week, a "Seinfeld" rerun. It was the newsmagazine's second high-profile interview in two weeks, following a talk with Latrell Sprewell, the NBA star suspended for choking his coach.
Some critics, however, accused CBS of going easy on Willey during the interview.
The premiere of "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" gave ABC some much-needed good news and Fox, which rejected the show, some heartburn. It finished 11th for the week, the highest-rated series premiere this year except for "Veronica's Closet" and "Union Square," on NBC's powerhouse Thursday schedule.
By contrast, Fox's new "Significant Others" tied for 85th place in its premier. Fox's freshman "Ally McBeal" was the network's highest-rated show of the week at 19th and scored its best ratings ever.
USA Network reported that the Sunday premier of its miniseries, "Moby Dick," delivered the biggest audience ever - 10.9 million - for an original entertainment show on cable television.
Among the emerging networks, the WB had a 3.2 rating and 5 share last week and UPN had a 2.7 rating and 4 share.
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.
The "NBC Nightly News" won the evening news competition with an 8.7 rating and 17 share. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with an 8.5 rating and 17 share, followed by the "CBS Evening News" at 8.0 and 16.
For the week of March 9-15, the top 10 shows, their networks and ratings were: 1. "60 Minutes," CBS, 19.4; 2. "Seinfeld," NBC, 17.2; 3. "Friends," NBC, 14.9; 4. "Just Shoot Me," NBC, 14.7; 5. "ER," NBC, 14.4; 6. "Touched By an Angel," CBS, 14.4; 7. "Veronica's Closet," NBC, 14.3; 8. "The Drew Carey Show," ABC, 14.0; 9. "Home Improvement," ABC, 12.5; 10. "PrimeTime Live," ABC, 12.5.