Nielsen Loves 'Raymond'

06/11/1998 12:00AM

With an average of 20.4 million viewers on Monday nights, the 5-season-old CBS sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," starring Ray Romano, is leaving the once top-rated "Friends" and "Frasier" in the dust, according to the Nielsen ratings. The showing represents a 21% leap from "Raymond" 's 16.9 million viewers last season and is second only to the 24.6 million who watch "ER." (The figure also slightly edges out "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"). "Friends," meanwhile, is averaging 20 million viewers (a drop of 2%), a number likely to decline even further once the sequel to "Survivor" is launched against it on Feb. 1. "Frasier," which has been shifted to Tuesdays (from Thursdays), is pulling in 18.4 million viewers, down 11% from last season. In addition, "Raymond," the numbers show, even performs well in reruns. (The rating is the percentage of the nation's estimated 102.2 million TV homes. Each ratings point represents 1,022,000 households.) The Top 10 for Dec. 25-31:
1. "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (Tuesday), ABC, 12.1, 12.3 million homes

2. "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (Wednesday), ABC, 11.8, 12.1 million homes

3. "NFL Monday Night Football: Dallas at Tennessee," ABC, 11.0, 11.2 million homes

4. "Friends," NBC, 10.5, 10.8 million homes

5. "Fox NFC Wildcard Post Game: Tampa Bay at Philadelphia," Fox, 10.2, 10.5 million homes

6. "Law and Order," NBC, 9.9, 10.2 million homes

7. "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (Thursday), ABC, 9.4, 9.6 million homes

8. "ER," NBC, 9.2, 9.4 million homes

9. "Will & Grace," NBC, 9.0, 9.2 million homes

10. "The West Wing," NBC, 8.7, 8.9 million homes

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