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″Cinderella” and Oprah help ABC to season’s first ratings win

November 4, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Disney’s new version of ``Cinderella,″ starring Brandy, Whitney Houston and Whoopi Goldberg, was a ratings smash that led ABC to its first weekly win of the television season.

ABC estimated 60 million people tuned in to at least some part of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical on Sunday night. For its first hour, the movie gave ABC its best ratings in the time slot in 13 years. Viewers included an estimated 70 percent of girls aged 2 to 11 who were watching TV.

After ``Cinderella,″ many viewers stayed with ABC for its movie ``Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings.″

``I don’t think anyone predicted the magnitude of Cinderella’s numbers,″ said Larry Hyams, chief researcher at ABC. ``Once you got that audience and with the power of Oprah, you knew it was going to be a strong evening.″

It was an opportune time for ABC to break NBC’s five-week winning streak. The one-month ``sweeps″ period when ratings are closely watched to set local advertising rates began on Thursday.

For the week, ABC had an 11.0 rating and 18 share, Nielsen Media Research said. Second-place NBC had a 9.8 rating and 16 share, CBS had a 9.4 rating and 15 share and Fox had a 7.4 rating and 12 share.

Although ``ER″ held its customary spot at the top of the ratings, it had one of its lowest ratings in some time for an original episode. NBC said CBS’s two-hour ``Diagnosis Murder″ siphoned off viewers.

Fox’s season premiere of ``The X-Files″ finished among the week’s top 10 shows, with its second most-watched episode ever. The episode broadcast after the Super Bowl last January was tops.

NBC’s ``Frasier,″ running well in the ratings this year, scored a rare victory over ABC’s ``Home Improvement.″

Among the emerging networks, UPN had a 3.4 rating and 5 share and the WB had a 2.8 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 those televisions in use that are tuned to a given show during a specified time period.

Ratings rose for nightly news programs in the wake of Wall Street’s gyrations. ``NBC Nightly News″ was first with an 8.8 rating and 18 share, ABC’s ``World News Tonight″ had an 8.3 rating and 17 share and the resurgent ``CBS Evening News″ had an 8.1 rating and 16 share.

For the week of Oct. 27-Nov. 2, the top 10 shows, their networks and ratings, were:

``ER,″ NBC, 20.6; ``Seinfeld,″ NBC, 20.3; ``ABC Sunday Night Movie: Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings,″ ABC, 18.7; ``Wonderful World of Disney: Cinderella,″ ABC, 18.4; ``Veronica’s Closet,″ NBC, 17.5; ``NFL Monday Night Football: New England at Green Bay or Chicago at Miami,″ ABC, 16.8; ``Friends,″ NBC, 16.3; ``The X-Files,″ Fox, 16.1; ``Touched By an Angel,″ CBS, 14.7; ``Frasier,″ NBC, 14.4.

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