NBC hits glitch, XFL hits skids

What a difference a week makes for NBC and its new football league the XFL. The network suffered technical difficulties Saturday night, was forced to televise a different game and sank to fourth in the ratings on the night.

And with all of the delays, NBC was to broadcast Saturday Night Live 45 minutes late to the disdain of SNL producers. The weekly comedy series, which has been turning in strong ratings recently, didn't come on until after midnight on the East Coast. Twelve minutes into NBC's Los Angeles/Chicago contest Saturday, a power generator broke and the network's feed out of Los Angeles was lost. NBC was forced to carry the back-up game, Orlando and San Francisco.

NBC went back to the Los Angeles/Chicago late in the action and the game actually went to double overtime. NBC's overall primetime XFL coverage Saturday averaged a 4.8 rating/8 share, according to Nielsen Media Research overnight data. That was a dramatic downturn from NBC's initial game a week earlier, which averaged a 10.3/17. Preliminary Nielsen info had the telecast averaging 6.4 million viewers, down from the 15.7 million that tuned in Feb. 3 for the XFL opener between Las Vegas and New York/New Jersey.
- Joe Schlosser