NEW YORK -- During a week of promising series debuts, ABC and CBS finished in a virtual dead heat in Nielsen Media Research's prime-time ratings race.
Meanwhile, NBC sunk to another historic low with XFL football and Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly marked a milestone in his continuing rivalry with Larry King.
Fox's latest reality series, "Boot Camp," was the network's most-watched program during its first week on the air. Nielsen said 15.8 million people tuned in to watch leather-lunged military personnel scream at money-hungry contestants.
ABC had strong starts for two new comedies. "What About Joan," starring Joan Cusack, reached 14.9 million viewers and "My Wife and Kids," with Damon Wayans, had 13.7 million people watching.
CBS breathed a sigh of relief that viewers flocked back to "Survivor II" after a one-week hiatus. The week's most popular show drew 28.1 million viewers.
NBC's XFL broadcast Saturday night had a 1.5 rating, believed to be the lowest-ever prime-time night among the big three networks in Nielsen history. It broke its own dubious record of 1.6 set two weeks ago.
The XFL game ranked 108th among 137 prime-time programs last week. Sunday's XFL broadcast on UPN finished in a six-way tie for 131st place.
O'Reilly, who recently signed a six-year contract extension with Fox News Channel, was celebrating Tuesday when ratings for the first three months of 2001 showed him beating King for the first time ever on a quarterly basis on weeknights. The margin was narrow: 1,114,000 average viewers to 1,097,000.
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