Week’s Nielsen win easy as ABC

ABC has won its third consecutive prime time Nielsens week and taken command of the November sweeps, and it was all as easy as “1-2-3.”

That’s because ABC had Sunday’s part one of “The Jacksons: An American Dream, ” which scored as the top-rated first episode of a network multiparter since “I Know My First Name Is Steven” earned a 21.6 back on May 22, 1989.

Those “Jacksons” numbers were easily strong enough to out-perform “Sinatra,” which began a week earlier on CBS, and to bring ABC home half a point ahead of CBS for the ratings week.

ABC holds solid leads in both the Arbitron and Nielsen sweeps periods. Through Monday of this week, the averages after 20 nights of the 28-night Arbitron period are: ABC, a 13.0 rating, 21 share; CBS, 12.6/20; NBC, 12.0/19; Fox Broadcasting Co., 8.1/13. And 19 nights into the four-week Nielsen period, it’s ABC, 13.1/21; CBS, 12.6/20; NBC, 11.9/19; Fox, 8.1/13.

With tonight’s second “Jacksons” installment expected to provide another big boost, ABC’s chances are looking good for a first November sweeps win in 14 years (Daily Variety, Nov. 13).

ABC has also pulled within 0.2 rating points of CBS in averages for regularly scheduled programs this fall and is the leading network in averages since the end of the World Series.

And that’s all in household ratings. ABC has pulled well ahead of CBS in the crucial adults 18-49 category, a general indicator of a network’s performance in the demographics most popular with advertisers. In fact, CBS is running just 0.1 rating points ahead of NBC in that key category, season to date.

Those eight-week figures are: ABC, an 8.0 rating; CBS, 7.0; NBC, 6.9; Fox, 5. 5. Last week’s averages in that demo were: ABC, 8.7/22; NBC, 7.1/18; CBS, 6.3/16 ; Fox, 5.8/14. Monday of the current week ended in a dead heat between CBS’ regular lineup and ABC’s, which was led by the Buffalo-Miami gridcast (17.5/29). NBC was third with “A Child Lost Forever” (15.4/23). Fox’s rerun of “Die Hard” rescued an 8.4/12.

CBS’ “Love and War” (14.2/21) has now stumbled into third in its slot for four consecutive airings.

ABC’s rise to the top of the Nov. 9-15 weeklong ratings chart culminated Sunday with the big “Jacksons” win, which boosted ABC to its highest Sunday rating since that net last televised the Super Bowl Jan. 27, 1991. “The Jacksons” also belted out ABC’s highest Sunday film rating since April 8, 1990, when “Twin Peaks” debuted with a 21.7/33.

“Jacksons” rocked to a 35 share among adults 18-49, while NBC’s competing “Donahue” spec ended up with a 17 and CBS’ vidpic settled for a mere 11.

Fox was hard-hit by the young-urban appeal of “Jacksons” and slumped to its weakest Sunday share since Aug. 9 (against the Summer Olympics). That’s despite Fox bagging its best 7-7:30 share in 10 weeks with “The Making of ‘Home Alone 2’ ” (though none of that audience increase transferred to “Ben Stiller,” which lost 35% of the “Alone” lead-in rating).

NBC won Saturday but could not have been impressed with the performance of its new 8-9 p.m. team “Here and Now” and “The Powers That Be,” each of which ran just 1 share out of fourth place in households. It was the lowest pair of shares in the 8-9 p.m. hour for NBC since June 26, 1982, when a “Shaun Cassidy” spec also averaged a 13 for the hour.

Making up in part for that weakness was the growing dominance of NBC’s “Sisters” at 10 p.m. Last Saturday “Sisters” scored its best rating ever and widest timeslot margin of victory since June 13.

Friday remained in ABC’s column, though without a “Perry Mason” film on NBC to drain CBS’ audience, the ABC-vs.-CBS race tightened. NBC is in trouble on Fridays without “Mason” on the case.

Last week the Peacock finished fourth on a Friday (losing to Fox head-to-head 8-10 p.m.) for the first time since Aug. 28. Of little help was the same-week second showing of the theatrical “The Hard Way,” which tumbled to the second-lowest rating among the nine theatrical films aired so far this season.

CBS’ lineup rebounded, though the tiring “Bob” slumped to easily its biggest ratings dropoff yet relative to lead-in “Designing Women.” Among adults 18-49, ABC won the night by a dominating 6 shares.

Thursday went easily to NBC, as “Cheers” leaped to its best rating since May 14 and an hourlong “A Different World” delivered NBC’s highest Thursday 8-9 p.m. rating since premiere week. “World” led the 8:30-9 period, its first half-hour win since June 11.

Fox now owns the 8 p.m. competition with “The Simpsons,” which last Thursday won by 10 shares among adults 18-49.

ABC’s “Delta,” meanwhile, is clearly finished in its current slot, last week hitting its lowest-yet household rating, and demographic results are weaker still.

Wednesday remains a close race, with NBC winning households and ABC winning adults 18-49; however, ABC couldn’t stretch its “Home Improvement” strength with a special “Doogie Howser,” which had a 34% ratings dropoff.

Tuesday was grabbed by CBS’ conclusion of “Sinatra.””Sinatra” ended its two-night run with a 17.5/27 average, the best of the three concluded multiparters aired so far this season, and ahead of 13 of the 15 firstrun multiparters aired during the ’91-’92 year (but well short of the “Jacksons” numbers that came later in the week).

ABC still won the night by an overwhelming 8 shares among adults 18-49, meaning CBS’ overall “Sinatra” win was heavily weighted with older viewers (the web earned, for example, a 15 share among women 18-34 but a 45 among women 50 and older).

ABC is proving vulnerable in the Tuesday household race mostly because “Going to Extremes” hasn’t consistently done the job at 10 p.m. Last week “Extremes” drifted to last place in both households and adults 18-49.

“Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” is also unimpressive for ABC, but “Hangin’ ” did manage last week to hold on to 97% of its adults 18-49 lead-in rating from “Full House,” despite a precipitous 14% loss in household numbers.

Monday saw CBS cop a narrow win, though ABC beefed up its lineup considerably by benching “Young Indiana Jones” for “FBI: The Untold Stories” and “American Detective.” NBC’s “Fatal Memories” scored as the net’s top-rated telefilm since “Woman With a Past” last March 2.

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