NASCAR Race, TNT Cross Nielsen Finish Line

A key NASCAR race from one of the unlikeliest of places captured the top slot in the Nielsen ratings for the week ended Sunday.

The New England 300, a NASCAR Winston Cup race held Sunday afternoon at the New Hampshire International Speedway, pulled ahead of coverage of baseball's home run derby and all other comers for a ratings win for TNT. Estimates released Wednesday by Nelsen Media Research found it was much more than a photo finish, with more than 5.87 million people tuning in to see the race compared to 5.22 million who watched the home run derby. TNT's pre-race program, sponsored by Discover Card, came in at 15th place with 3.1 million people watching it a half-hour before the New England 300 began.

TNT appeared twice more in the top 15 ranked by household audience with a perennial favorite of both broadcast and cable, Law & Order. Nickelodeon had four shows in the top 15, including three episodes of Spongebob and a Fairly Odd Parents. Monk continued its strong showing in its second season, a made-for-Disney movie cracked the top 15 and Lifetime, TBS and USA also had one top-15 show each. TNN, fresh from a delayed but now rescheduled launch as Spike TV, had the third- and fourth-ranked shows with wrestling.



The top pay-cable program was an episode of Sex and the City, which delivered a 4.1 rating with 6.43 million people tuning in. A Sopranos rerun placed second with a little more than half the audience.

In syndication, the top program of the week in households was Wheel of Fortune, which delivered an 8 rating and 8.55 million households. Jeopardy came in second with a 6.5 rating and 6.97 million households. The remainder of the top 10 were Friends, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld Weekend, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Entertainment Tonight, Judy and the Dr. Phil Show.

The top 10 programs ranked by household audience for the week ended Sunday:

  1. New England 300 (TNT), 3.8, 5.87 million.

  2. Home Run Derby (ESPN), 3.5, 5.22 million.

  3. WWE Raw Zone (TNN), 3.2, 5.07 million.

  4. WWE Raw (TNN), 3, 4.45 million.

  5. Spongebob (Nick), 2.6, 3.99 million. (9:30 a.m. Saturday)

  6. Law & Order (TNT), 2.6, 3.32 million. (9 p.m. Tuedssay)

  7. Monk (USA), 2.5, 4.07 million.

  8. Spongebob (Nick), 2.5, 3.88 million. (2 p.m. Monday).

  9. Miss Congeniality (TBS), 2.4, 3.62 million. (8 p.m. Wednesday).

  10. Fairly Odd Parents (Nick), 2.4, 3.68 million. (10 a.m. Saturday).

The remainder of the top 15 were Spongebob (Nick), Eddie's Million Dollar Cook-Off, Law & Order, Strong Medicine and the Discover Card Pre-Race.

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