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CBS First in February Ratings

March 6, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Despite a disappointing Olympics, CBS easily beat second-place NBC to win the February ratings sweeps. Fox tied for third with struggling ABC.

CBS averaged a 13.8 household rating and 22 share for the period, according to network figures released Thursday. NBC was second with a 9.6 rating and 15 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 three major sweeps periods of intense ratings measurement are used each year to help set local advertising rates.

ABC and Fox had matching 8.0 average ratings and 13 shares _ a disappointment for ABC but the 11-year-old Fox network’s best finish yet in a key sweeps month.

``This sweeps success went well beyond specials,″ Fox programming head Peter Roth said Thursday. He cited such regular fare as ``Ally McBeal″ and the Sunday night lineup that includes ``The X-Files.″

In total viewers, Fox edged ABC by about a half-million people, further proof of ABC’s shaky schedule. For the Feb. 5-March 4 sweeps period, Fox’s audience averaged 12.2 million while ABC had 11.7 million.

CBS’ total viewership averaged 21 million and NBC’s was 13.7 million.

Although the ratings for CBS’ Olympic broadcasts were below those of recent games, the event still helped boost the network in the sweeps by attracting 184 million viewers, the network said.

CBS also had the month’s highest-rated entertainment special with the Grammy Awards and aired the top-rated TV movie (``The Long Way Home,″ starring Jack Lemmon).

This marks CBS’ second consecutive first-place sweeps finish and the network’s first back-to-back victories since November 1993 and February 1994.

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