NEW YORK, March 7 -- NBC's medical drama, 'E.R.,' dropped last week from the No. 1 spot in the TV ratings to fifth place, with NBC's 'Seinfeld' moving into the top spot, the A.C. Nielsen Co. reported Tuesday. The ratings shift could reflect NBC's return to reruns for those shows and others on the heels of the February ratings sweeps period. The sitcom 'Seinfeld,' up from No. 2 the week before, posted a 21.4 rating and 32 percent share of households watching TV for the week ending March 5. ABC's 'Home Improvement' was second with a 21 rating and a 30 share, followed by ABC's 'Grace Under Fire' in third with 20.5-30 and NBC's 'Friends,' also new this season, in the fourth position with 20. 4-31. Even with its plunge to No. 5 -- in the same week it won the People's Choice awards for favorite TV drama and favorite new drama -- 'E.R.' racked up a 20.3 rating and 34 share, numbers that would please any TV drama producer. In the previous week 'E.R.' garnered a 24.3 rating and a 40 percent share, making it the first TV drama since 1987 to attract 40 percent of the viewing audience. The list was rounded out by CBS's '60 Minutes,' an NBC rerun of 'Wings,' ABC's 'NYPD Blue,' NBC's Monday night movie, 'Op Center,' the second part of a two-part suspense drama, and ABC's 'Ellen.' CBS's special coverage of the People's Choice Awards last Sunday was in 22nd place with 13.3-22.
NBC and CBS tied as No. 1 network, each averaging ll.7-19, followed by ABC, which was often top network earlier this season, with ll.3-18. Fox scored 6.8-11 with 15 hours of primetime programming compared with the other networks' 22 hours. ABC is the leading network for the season to date, followed by NBC and CBS. ABC dominated audiences on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday last week, NBC took Monday and Thursday and CBS claimed its usual Saturday and Sunday. Trailing neck-and-neck were NBC, 11.6-19, and CBS, 11.5-19. ABC maintained its lead in the evening news race with a 9.7 average rating and an 18 share. CBS and NBC tied with 8.1-15. Each rating point represents about 942,000 households. A share is the percentage of TV sets in use that are tuned into a particular show or network. ------
The top 10 programs for the past week, according to Nielsen, were: 1. 'Seinfeld' (R) (NBC) 21.4-32. 2. 'Home Improvement' (ABC) 21-30. 3. 'Grace Under Fire' (ABC) 20.5-30. 4. 'Friends' (NBC) 20.4-31. 5. 'E.R.' (R) (NBC) 20.3-34. 6. '60 Minutes' (CBS) 18.1-29. 7. 'Wings' (R) (NBC) 17.7-29. 8. 'NYPD Blue' (ABC) 16.4-26. 9. Monday night movie: 'Op Center' (NBC) 15.8-24. 10. 'Ellen' (ABC) 15.7-24.