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Ayem shows battle for top slot

“Good Morning America” and “Today” continued their neck-and-neck race in the first week of the fourth quarter, while “CBS This Morning” jumped toward a more competitive position during the Sept. 28-Oct. 2 Nielsen week.

The ABC and NBC morning shows–which tied in rating for the third quarter–delivered a 4.0 rating, 19 share and 3.9/19, respectively, while CBS’ entry jumped 16% in rating and two share over its third-quarter average to a 2.9 /14.

“Today” held the lead among adults 18-49, with a 1.8 rating, to ABC’s 1.5 and a 1.0 for “CBS This Morning.”

In daytime, meanwhile, CBS ran its win streak to 187 weeks as NBC slipped deeper into third and ABC’s overall average continued to show improvement with the disappearance of the low-rated third half-hour of its “Home” show.

CBS averaged a 5.7/24 in households, followed by ABC (4.7/17, up 12% over last week and its third-quarter results) and NBC (2.8/11, the same as last week but down 13% from the third-quarter tally). ABC was also the leader among women 18-49, with a 3.6 rating to CBS’ 3.3 and NBC’s 1.8.

NBC’s soon-to-be-canceled series “Santa Barbara” and “Dr. Dean” posted a 2.5/ 9 and 1.1/5, respectively.

“The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” posted a 4.5/15, although the show continues to drop sharply in its second half-hour. “Tonight” drew a 5.4/16 in its first half, compared to a 5.0/15 for “Nightline.” CBS’ “Crime Time” action shows averaged a 3.2/11 overall.

“Tonight” household ratings are down slightly vs. the same period last year, but NBC notes that the show continues to be up 4% among adults 18-49, with a 2.7 rating in that demo.

“Late Night With David Letterman” continues to look solid with a 2.7/14, while CBS’ new weekly late night airings of “The Kids in the Hall” (1.1/6) looked anemic, as did “ABC in Concert” (1.3/10). “Saturday Night Live” delivered an 8.1/24.

Saturday-morning results were delayed by Nielsen, though NBC noted in advance that its levels will be depressed because of low clearances due to its coverage of Notre Dame football.

ABC looked rugged with its college football double-header, drawing a 6.5/22 with Miami-Florida State and a 6.3/17 for its afternoon regional coverage, while NBC tackled a 3.5/11 with the Notre Dame gridcast.

NBC did have the weekend’s top pro football rating with a 14.4/32 for its afternoon game, compared to an 11.9/31 and 8.7/23 for morning games, respectively, on CBS and NBC.

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