'Fear Factor' Scares Up TV Viewers

Summer TV is looking pretty scary. In the eight weeks since its premiere in mid-June, NBC’s “Fear Factor” reality series has rocketed to the top of the ratings. Its formula: Show people confronting their fears doing scary stunts, like eating beetles (live, not fried). According to the Nielsen ratings, the show attracted its biggest audience yet last week when, during its peak viewing period, an estimated 15 million people tuned in to watch it on Monday night at 8 p.m. ET. The show also finished No. 1 among 18-to-49-year-old viewers, with an estimated 8.8 million from the advertiser-coveted demographic tuning in, according Nielsen. It was also the second week in a row that “Fear” claimed the No. 1 spot among both total viewers and 18-to-49-year-olds, and the fifth time the show was No. 1 spot among the 18-to-49-year-olds. Critics, however, just hate “Fear Factor.” But the network loves the ratings. The Top 10 TV shows for the week of July 30-Aug. 5:

1. “Fear Factor,” NBC, 9.6, 9.8 million homes
2. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Tuesday, ABC, 9.0, 9.2 million homes
3. “Weakest Link,” NBC, 8.7, 9.0 million homes
4. “Dateline NBC,” Monday, NBC, 8.3, 8.5 million homes
5. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.2, 8.4 million homes
6. “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 8.0, 8.2 million homes
7. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Sunday, ABC, 7.9, 8.1 million homes
8. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Thursday, ABC, 7.8, 8.0 million homes
9. “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 7.6, 7.8 million homes
10. (tie) “Dateline NBC,” Tuesday, NBC, 7.4, 7.5 million homes
10. (tie) “Law and Order,” NBC, 7.4, 7.6 million homes

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