CBS calls on ‘E.T.’ for ratings win

“E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” has brought its healing touch to CBS, allowing the Eye web to quickly recover from a disappointing November sweeps and snap ABC’s four-week prime time Nielsen winning streak.

“E.T.” teamed with Friday’s “Circus of the Stars” and the promising Saturday newcomer “Miracles and Other Wonders” to propel CBS back to the front of the Nielsen chase.

ABC slipped out of the top spot for the week but may have gotten the best ratings news of all when “Coach” switched to the Wednesday schedule with powerful numbers (Daily Variety, Dec. 1).

Following “Home Improvement” in the 9:30 slot, “Coach” held on to 95% of the hit “Home” rating, the best performance in the post-“Home” slot since the Tim Allen sitcom moved to Wednesdays last summer (better even than a second “Home” episode Nov. 4 and a special “Roseanne” Sept. 9).

Meanwhile, “E.T.” phoned in CBS’ second non-sports Thursday win of the season and did it with good enough demographics — a 24 share among adults 18-49 — to boost CBS to the week’s lead in that breakout. Those 18-49 averages were: CBS, a 7.5 rating, 19 share; ABC, 7.3/18; NBC, 6.6/17; Fox Broadcasting Co., 5.1/13.

CBS is also out of the gate first in ratings results for the current week, winning Monday with its usual lineup. ABC fumbled to its lowest “Monday Night Football” telecast since Sept. 14 with a Seattle-Denver matchup (14.7/24).

The Nov. 23-29 CBS win was impressively capped Sunday by “60 Minutes” and “Murder, She Wrote,” both of which tracked down their second-highest ratings of the season. But ABC grabbed the night among adults 18-49, thanks to the powerful “A Mother’s Right,” an easy winner in the 9-11 p.m. film race.

Fox was competitive in the middle of the Sunday schedule but looked ragged on both ends. The 7-8 p.m. tandem of “Great Scott” and “Ben Stiller” fell to Fox’s lowest share there in the five years Fox has been regularly measured by Nielsen, while the 10-11 p.m. “U2 Zoo TV” stumbled to Fox’s lowest share there since March 10, 1991 (“Comic Strip Live”).

On Saturday NBC looked strong from 9-11 p.m. but has clear problems 8-9 p.m. Last week the Peacock finished third that hour, just a share out of fourth.

NBC bolstered itself with a 10-11 p.m. “Bob Hope” program, which earned Hope’s second-highest rating since his spec entertaining the Desert Shield troops Jan. 12, 1991. NBC also benefited from the top “Nurses” rating since March 28.

CBS looked good with its debut at 8 p.m. of “Miracles and Other Wonders,” which produced CBS’ strongest non-sports share there since July 18. “Miracles” also edged out NBC for second in adults 18-49 for the hour.

Friday fell to CBS for the first time since Sept. 18 thanks to “Circus of the Stars,” although “Stars” plunged 12% below last year’s rating in the same timeslot.

Holiday distractions and tough competition rained on “Camp Wilder,” which got soaked for ABC’s worst share in the 9:30 half-hour since a “David Bowie” spec June 3, 1988. ABC has now lost that half-hour 12 weeks in a row.

NBC outpaced ABC in both households and adults 18-49 from 8-10 p.m. by putting a two-hour version of Saturday morning’s “Saved By the Bell” up against the T.G.I.F. sitcoms.

Thanksgiving night went to CBS’ “E.T.” Against such atypical competition, things continue to look bleak for “Out All Night,” NBC’s latest attempt to replace “The Cosby Show” in the 8-8:30 slot. It’s been at least 11 years since NBC has had to live with a share in that slot as low as what “Night” has settled for in each of the last two weeks.

Ironically, in what will likely be its farewell appearance, Fox’s “The Heights” escaped fourth place for the first time this season.

Wednesday went to ABC, which enjoyed the impressive first try by “Coach” as a regular on that schedule. CBS undercut NBC’s Wednesday chances by pitting “Rescue 911” opposite “Unsolved Mysteries,” thus the Peacock landed third on a Wednesday for a second week in a row.

On Tuesday ABC sent out “Barbara Walters” to beat back CBS’ “Lethal Weapon 2” assault, and thus won the night handily. CBS did manage its second-highest-rated regular-programming Tuesday of the season.

The “Walters” spec improved in rating an encouraging 17% over last year’s disappointing November installment.

Last Monday’s half-hours all went to NBC (except for an 8-8:30 tie with “Evening Shade”) thanks to the strong second half of “Deadly Matrimony” (Daily Variety, Nov. 25). It was NBC’s first Monday win since Aug. 17 and “Matrimony” earned the web’s highest Monday-pic rating since part two of “Switched at Birth” April 29, 1991.

Each rating point represents an estimated 931,000 households, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. The share is the same sort of percentage, except that it’s measured against only the households watching TV during the timeslot involved.

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