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Sunday, February 11
XFL ratings show 50 percent decline



NBC's second XFL broadcast drew about half as many viewers as tuned in for the debut of the fledgling football league owned by the network and the World Wrestling Federation.

Tellingly, NBC finished last among the four major networks in prime time on Saturday one week after beating ABC, CBS and Fox with the opening of the part-spectacle, part-sports program.

The preliminary overnight rating for Saturday's XFL show was 5.1, meaning an average of 5.1 percent of television homes in the country's largest 49 markets tuned in at any given time.

That's a steep drop from the 10.3 preliminary Nielsen number for last week, and reminiscent of the viewer erosion experienced by the U.S. Football League when it started in the 1980s.

Another bad sign: Repeating a pattern established in Week 1, the XFL rating decreased each half-hour from 8 to 10:30 p.m. ET. There was a razor-thin increase for the next 30 minutes, and then a 25 percent boost over the final 45 minutes as the Los Angeles Xtreme pulled out their 39-32 victory over the Chicago Enforcers in two extra periods.

There was a major glitch 12 minutes into the show, when an NBC power generator gave out and the feed from Los Angeles was lost. Viewers saw an on-screen graphic for 1½ minutes before being taken to the night's other game for about 25 minutes.

Still, it took just seven days for the XFL to go from vastly exceeding expectations to hovering right around the 4.5 rating NBC promised advertisers.

"We remain a work in progress and our numbers last night are exactly where we said they would be the last six months," NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said.

ABC, which aired "The Parent Trap," won the night with an 8.1 preliminary rating, followed by CBS with 7.0, and Fox with 6.4. NBC's rating for the prime-time slot (8-11 p.m.) was 4.8.

Full national ratings are expected Tuesday.

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