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1997-98 Ratings History -- NBC In Front Again as Seinfeld Laughs and ER Drama Captivate

 Written Thirsty for NBC Thursdays by Bridger Cunningham

Please note data for the 1997-98 season is fleeting, leaving four holes in this large grid.  Available data is reported.

What does one do when their show pony decides to retire after 9 seasons?  In NBC's case, they pinched every ounce of opportunity to send Seinfeld out with a bang.  During this swan song, NBC attempted to juxtapose two mediocre sitcoms next door, only to wind up with neighbors as irritating as Newman.  Despite bad sitcom neighbors, most Thursday shows landed in the top 10.  Tuesdays anchored strong around ever-sophisticated Frasier, and Dateline quintuplet shows plastered timeslots with low marketability.

Elsewhere, a fragile ABC caned the 2nd place position for a 3rd year, though it did not deserve that title this season.  CBS again registered 3rd despite vigorous efforts to reinvent the tired network.  FOX suffered as its sitcoms and soaps imploded, and WB hit its stride with young-adult-skewing dramas.  UPN tailed as it had yet to distinguish itself.


Trending Hot -- NBC.  'Nuff said.  Duplicate news outlets continued to proliferate, as life was all too peaceful and the public needed drama via news.  Feel-good television delivered G-rated delights for CBS, and Movie Nights plugged undesirable holes on all networks save for WB.  Speaking of the two-letter network, it surged as Dawson's Creek grabbed the soap crown, followed by 7th Heaven and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer staking a hole in low-rated hearts.  And FOX delivered imaginative hits with Ally McBeal and The X-Files.

Trending Tepid -- Sitcoms NOT on NBC.  CBS Mondays held okay, as did Sundays on FOX.  Beyond that, Home Improvement rested at the highest point on ABC's sinking barge.  WB and UPN only managed to reach Amish television sets, TGIF on ABC crumbled, and CBS launched a disastrous family-friendly lineup with recent ABC discards Family Matters and Step by Step.  FOX soaps jumped the shark in the Melrose Place pool as their red-hot sensations tired from poor writing.

Trending Cold -- UPN stayed in the ratings cellar with nary a trademark show in sight.  Overall, ABC exhibited one of the most disappointing seasons in its runs, only lowered by the disastrous 2003-04 season.  And picking up other networks' discards backfired this season.