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The Most Popular Newsmagazines of 2002

Dec 16, 2002  •  Post A Comment

NBC’s “Dateline” was the big winner in the prime-time newsmagazine category in 2002, scoring the most top 10 telecasts (minus specials) in both the 18- to 49-year-old and the 25- to 54-year-old demographics.
The No. 1-rated show in both demo groups was the Sunday, Feb. 24, “Dateline” that featured interviews with Olympic ice-skating champions Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill. The show aired just prior to the start of the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which clearly helped boost the show to its big numbers.
All measurements are based on Nielsen Media Research’s national people-meter data for Dec. 31, 2001, through Dec. 3, 2002.
Cutting back and coming out
In second place for the year was a “Dateline” that aired just last month, on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The show featured “Today” show co-host Al Roker’s operation to reduce the size of his stomach, which enabled him to lose about 100 pounds.
The next-most-popular show for the 18 to 49 crowd was Rosie O’Donnell’s revelatory interview on ABC’s March 14 edition of “PrimeTime Thursday.” That’s the show on which Rosie discussed for the first time on TV that she is gay.
In the older 25 to 54 demo, however, the “PrimeTime Thursday” with Rosie was No. 4, beaten by the Jan. 13 broadcast of “60 Minutes” that featured Brenda Snyder, who was convicted of killing her daughter, and a feature about the damage caused by American planes spraying coca fields in Colombia. That show ranked No. 4 in the 18 to 49 demographic.
No doubt, this edition of “60 Minutes” and the the Jan. 6 broadcast-the only other “60 Minutes” to break into the top 10 in both demo groups-were helped immeasurably by the late-season football leads they had.
Investigations
No. 5 on the 25 to 54 list was the Feb. 1 “20/20” edition that featured the Barbara Walters’ interview Celine Dion. That show ranked No. 7 with 18- to 49-year-olds.
No. 5 in the younger, 18 to 49 demo was the Tuesday, April 21, “Dateline” featuring a hidden camera investigation of fresh meat in supermarkets. That broadcast was No. 7 on the 25 to 54 list.
Andrea Yates, a Texas mother who killed her children, was the subject of the March 12 “Dateline,” the sixth-most-watched newsmagazine by 18- to 49-year-olds in 2002. It ranked No. 8 on the 25 to 54 list.
No. 9 in both the 18 to 49 demo and the 25 to 54 group was yet another “Dateline,” the Tuesday, Feb. 5, edition that featured the story of twin girls joined at the hip.
Finally, the 10th-most-watched show in the 25 to 54 demo was the Friday, March 8, “Dateline” that featured a story about a murder case in Texas in which the investigating detective was accused of involvement in a satanic cult supposedly linked to the murder. This broadcast did not make the top 10 in the 18 to 49 demo.