ABC 2nd, but webs have weak week

CBS’ big numbers from the NCAA college basketball championship game were strong enough to carry the network to victory in a lackluster April 5-11 prime time Nielsen week.

With viewership drained by the Easter/Passover holiday, CBS won with its worst weeklong score since it got thumped down to third place during Super Bowl week. ABC finished a close second despite its lowest rating since Christmas week.

So with one week left to count in the official 1992-93 Nielsen season, CBS is headed toward an easy seasonlong victory, having taken 21 of 29 weeks so far — and 16 of the last 18, in a winning streak interrupted only by the weeks of Super Bowl and Academy Award coverage.

The pecking order is in fact clearly established in the households race, where ABC has run second every week since Nov. 30-Dec. 6, except for Academy Awards week, and NBC hasn’t finished ahead of either competing web since Sept. 7 -13, except when it broadcast the Super Bowl.

The race for the most profitable demographics, however, is much closer. Last week, among adults 18-49, the net scores were: ABC, a 6.6 rating, 19 share; CBS, 6.5/18; NBC, 5.9/17; and Fox Broadcasting Co., 4.8/14.

On Monday of the current week, NBC’s “Night of a Thousand Laughs” prevailed with “Fresh Prince” (12.7/22 and 14.1/23) taking the 8 p.m. hour and the hot “Seinfeld” (13.4/23) dominating the 10 p.m. hour.

CBS got a respectable Monday start from “Bob,” a 12.3/20 in the 8:30-9 half-hour. It was the second-best performance by an 8:30-Monday CBS sitcom, relative to its lead-in, since last Dec. 14.

The April 5-11 CBS weeklong victory was sealed Sunday night with another CBS sweep of that night’s half-hours.

Still, ABC nearly caught CBS among adults 18-49 thanks to the second-strongest “Day One” so far and the pic “Next of Kin,” ABC’s second-highest-rated Sunday movie since Jan. 21.

The net’s “This Just In” at 7:30 roughly equalled recent performances from “American’s Funniest People” in that slot, relative to the lead-in.

NBC’s “I’ll Fly Away” crashed and burned in a special Sunday showing, reporting NBC’s worst rating in that hour since May 31, 1992. Despite the woeful lead-in, NBC’s latest showing of “The Sound of Music” finished within 1% of its year-ago rating.

On Saturday, CBS’ “A League of Their Own” hit a homer its first time out (not unusual for a film adaptation), scoring as the first CBS regular series ever to beat NBC’s “Empty Nest” in the Saturday 9-9:30 slot. “League’s” rating topped CBS’ season average for that slot by 11%.

But then “Brooklyn Bridge” came falling down by 25% compared to its “League” lead-off, taking CBS quickly from first to fourth.

“The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” which will again be yanked from the schedule after this week, again equaled the second-worst ABC rating in the troubled Saturday 8-9 p.m. hour since last summer.

Friday saw ABC sweep the half-hours for a third time in the six weeks since “Getting By” and “Where I Live” joined the sked. CBS’ “Good Advice” cooled in its second week but still topped its lead-in rating from “Designing Women” by a solid 8%. “Bodies of Evidence” declined by 16% in rating in its second try in the Friday 10-11 p.m. hour.

Thursday continues to see close competition in households, but NBC dominates among young adults. Last week the Peacock again missed its “Cheers” rerun at 8 p.m. but still took the night narrowly in households over ABC’s old-appeal lineup, while Fox faded to its worst Thursday numbers since Jan. 7.

Wednesday remains in ABC’s column (by a big 7 shares among adults 18-49), though the net’s “Home Free” and “Sirens” faded into their respective slot cellars last week. “Home Free” collapsed 31% below its “Wonder Years” lead-in after topping that lead-in just a week earlier.

NBC inched back into Wednesday contention by trying “Crime & Punishment” at 9 p.m. and topping six of the last seven “Homicide” ratings in that slot.

Tuesday finally saw the end of an 11-week CBS winning streak on the night, as the Eye Web ran “Field of Dreams” and built its lowest Tuesday pic rating since Oct. 27. Also, “Rescue 911” fell to its worst regular-season, regular-slot rating since March 10, 1992.

ABC triumphed on only its second Tuesday in the past 16 weeks (after having won 24 of 30 Tuesdays last season), though the arrival of “Delta” and a special “Where I Live” were unspectacular contributors.

“Delta” did manage to hold on to 79% of its lead-in rating from “Roseanne,” better than what “The Jackie Thomas Show” has done in its last 14 tries, but also worse than what “Jackie” did in its first five tries.

“Where I Live” retained 89% of its “Full House” lead-in, but slot regular “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” has done better than that its last six airings in a row.

NBC compounded the indignity of CBS’ Tuesday loss by dumping that net into third for the night. NBC did it with the old-skewing “Miracle Child” vidpic, which produced NBC’s second-best Tuesday 8-10 p.m. rating of the ’93 calendar year. “Dateline NBC” also reported its second-best rating of ’93.

In its third week the fast-fading “Tribeca” is already equaling Fox’ worst-yet rating in that hour. And when the feat was duplicated by “Tribeca’s” lead-in, “Class of ’96,” it became Fox’ lowest-rated Tuesday ever.

Monday’s competition was rejected by CBS’ coverage of the North Carolina-MichiganNCAA basketball championship game, the sixth-highest-rated college hoopcast ever (Daily Variety, April 7).

In evening news last week, NBC vaulted ahead of CBS into second place for the first time since Oct. 19-23, a week of World Series disruptions. CBS was weakened last week by Monday basketball preemptions.

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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