Eye web wins week

CBS celebrated the Christmas week in style with an easy Dec. 21-27 prime time Nielsens victory, ahead of bumbling competition from ABC and NBC, where the two lowest-ever weeklong regular-season ratings were recorded last week.

ABC’s 9.7 rating broke NBC’s week-old record for regular-season futility (a 9 .9), but still finished far ahead of NBC’s meager 8.9, a full point lower than the worst any of the three networks had ever suffered in modern TV history prior to last week.

Such lowest-ever marks are expected during Christmas week, when holiday activities pull viewers away from the TV in big numbers.

But ABC and NBC magnified that effect last week with a pair of little-watched specials–a Summer Olympics retrospec on NBC Friday at 8 p.m. and a literacy kudocast on ABC Saturday at 10 p.m.

Both plunged their respective nets to their worst ratings in those hours in at least 11 years, and probably ever (even including summer reruns).

The CBS lineup, by contrast, weathered the holiday viewer defections and got big boosts from feature films “Parenthood” (which led a dominating CBS Tuesday win), “The Naked Gun” (CBS’ second-highest-rated Saturday film since last Jan. 11) and made-for “Mrs. ‘arris Goes to Paris” (which equaled CBS’ highest Sunday-film share since last March 1). The result was the best Christmas-week rating for any net since NBC’s 13.4 in 1989.

Despite the CBS strength, the three webs combined for the lowest three-net rating and share ever in a regular-season week.

The Dec. 21-27 adults 18-49 standings were: CBS, a 6.4 rating, 18 share; ABC, 6.0/17; NBC, 5.5/16; Fox, 4.5/13.

The Amy Fisher saga will make for an interesting footnote of the current week. NBC’s entry (“Amy Fisher: My Story”) Monday scored a killer 19.1/30–the highest-rated network telefilm of the season and NBC’s highest single-episode-Monday-pic rating since “Kaleidoscope” earned a 20.3/32 back on Oct. 15, 1990.

CBS and ABC roll out their takes on the affair (or lack thereof) Sunday night.

ABC had to settle for second place Monday night, though its Detroit-San Francisco gridcast (19.1/31) tied “Fisher” head-to-head and scored the highest “Monday Night Football” rating since Oct. 5.

Still, the Fisher pic came a fragment away from matching the game in men 18- 49, with the movie landing a 10.1 rating and football scoring a 10.2.

Thus, CBS was shut out on Monday of the current week and landed the deepest in third place it’s been on a Monday since Nov. 27, 1989.

But last week was another matter, as CBS capped an easy Dec. 21-27 weeklong win by topping its Sunday night competition by 12 shares. That equaled CBS’ biggest Sunday margin since the World Series.

The Angela Lansbury-Omar Sharif “Mrs. ‘arris” vidpic played a big role, equaling CBS’ highest Sunday-film share since “A Woman Scorned” March 1.

NBC’s “Ghost Dad” posted that net’s best 7-9 p.m. Sunday share since Sept. 13 . The Bill Cosby pic combined with the “Opportunity Knocks” theatrical to win the night for NBC among adults 18-49, the third time this season NBC has taken Sunday by that measure.

‘Lincoln’ logs

ABC’s “Lincoln” sagged noticeably on its second night, after winning its two-hour slot Saturday. “Lincoln’s” two-night 8.2/15 average would put it behind every dramatic multiparter, firstrun or rerun, aired since CBS repeated “Till We Meet Again” May 22-23.

Still, for a four-hour documentary airing over the Christmas weekend, ABC has to be somewhat satisfied with the “Lincoln” numbers, particularly Saturday’s. Only once since last April 25 has ABC topped “Lincoln’s” Saturday 8-10 p.m. 17 share.

Saturday fell to CBS (its second in a row after having been shut out on non-sports-programmed Saturdays since last July 18) as “Naked Gun” outshot ABC’s “Lincoln.””Naked” and “Lincoln,” in turn, kicked “Empty Nest” into third in its slot, the first time that’s ever happened to the durable NBC sitcom.

Friday, Christmas night, ABC’s “20/20” pulled out the nightlong win after CBS’ sitcoms topped ABC’s sitcoms 8-10 p.m. (though the ABC lineup still dominates in adults 18-49).

CBS’ “Major Dad” tied for first at 8:30, after having been shut out of the slot lead for the first 13 weeks of the season.

That’s two for ‘Bob’

The web’s “Bob,” meanwhile, made it two time period victories during the week. On Friday, “Bob” won its 9:30 p.m. Yuletide slot with an 8.8/18.

That followed a 13.5 rating/22 share in a special 8:30 p.m. Monday showing on Dec. 21. The Bob Newhart sitcom dropped 1.1/2 from its lead-in “Evening Shade” while “Murphy Brown” at 9 rose to a 13.7/22.

NBC’s prime time pro-basketball game topped all the Peacock’s non-“Perry Mason” programming in that slot this season.

Fox’s Christmas present

Thursday, Christmas Eve, landed in Fox’s column, the weblet’s first Thursday households win of the season. ABC edged out the other nets for second, though CBS scored higher among adults 18-49.

Compared with their last web showings (both back at Christmas ’89), ABC’s “Santa Claus: The Movie” was down 34% in rating and CBS’ “A Christmas Carol” fell by 32%.

NBC narrowly won the 9-10 p.m. hour, but got a bit of nice news when “Wings” held on to 99% of its “Cheers” lead-in rating, the best “Wings” retention ever.

Wednesday was again nearly a dead heat among the three webs, but ABC, this time the households winner, remains comfortably ahead in adults 18-49.

CBS’ unusual salute to feevee competitor HBO fell to the Eye’s lowest share that hour in six weeks, but it also topped four of the five “Hat Squad” shares in the slot so far this season.

‘Extremes’ difficulty

Tuesday saw CBS take advantage of growing ABC vulnerability on the night. The major ABC trouble spot is “Going to Extremes,” which falls completely out of the 10-11 p.m. race in rerun. Last week’s poor 11 share was barely better than what ABC did in the hour last summer during the political conventions.

“The Jackie Thomas Show” also continues to fade, last week settling for 80% of its lead-in rating from “Roseanne.”

So CBS’ “Rescue 911” and the “Parenthood” were able to beat ABC’s rerun-heavy schedule by a surprising 5 shares among adults 18-49.

NBC remains in trouble Tuesdays 8-10 p.m., but from 10-11 p.m. last week “Dateline NBC” shot to its best rating and share ever. A prison interview with Amy Fisher helped boost last week’s “Dateline” audience.

The Monday competition was sacked by ABC’s Dallas-Atlanta “Monday Night Football” coverage (Daily Variety, Dec. 23).

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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