ABC, CBS dead even

ABC and CBS tied for the Aug. 23-29 primetime Nielsens lead, but it was Fox Broadcasting Co. that enjoyed the most encouraging results from its early fall premieres.

Fox’s “Living Single” improved solidly on its premiere numbers of the previous week to grab the highest Fox share in its slot in a year, while Friday’s “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” rode off with the best Friday Fox premiere numbers ever.

Over at NBC, the new Tom Brokaw-Katie Couric “Now” series, last week’s top-rated NBC program, is also shaping up as a competitive new-season entry.

By contrast, the two premiering fall entries on the CBS sked last week — Wednesday’s “The Trouble With Larry” and Thursday’s “Angel Falls”– settled for unimpressive third-place finishes in their slots.

ABC remains far ahead of the pack in adults 18-49, having won in that key demo the last six weeks in a row. Last week’s averages were: ABC, a 5.7 rating, 18 share; CBS, 4.7/15; NBC, 4.5/14; Fox, 4.3/13.


On Monday of this week, ABC’s two-hour preview of “Missing Persons” found a slot-winning 11.4/19. Between “Missing” and “Day One” (11.2/19), ABC won five of the night’s six half-hours, losing only to “Murphy Brown” (12.5/20). In adults 18-49, CBS’ lineup prevailed.


Fox won the night among adults 18-49 with excellent week-two work from “Martin” and the new “Living Single.””Martin” earned Fox’s best share in that half-hour since last Dec. 20 and “Single” surged to the best Fox 8:30-9 Sunday share in almost exactly a year, since the Emmys were telecast Aug. 30, 1992. The “Brisco County” premiere, rerun from 6-8 p.m., lassoed Fox’s top 7-8 p.m. Sunday share since Feb. 21. CBS swept the night’s half-hours in households but could do no better than third in adults 18-49.


Fox remains in control of Saturday’s 18-49 audience, aided last week by a record “Front Page” rating, while CBS’ football took the night in households.

ABC’s “Born to Ride” roared off with the net’s best Saturday 8-10 p.m. share in four months whileNBC’s gymnastics coverage nailed the best Peacock 8-9 p.m. Saturday rating in five weeks.


ABC swept this night but Fox still rustled up its best Friday rating since March 12 with the two-hour premiere of “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”

Ravaged by low clearances for local football coverage, CBS fell to its weakest Friday share since March 13, 1992.

First, “How’d They Do That?” lost a full one-third of its rating in its second try on the Friday sked, then firstrun tryouts “The Building” and “The Boys” finished deep in their slot cellars –“Boys” with CBS’ worst share in that slot since July 26, 1991, and “Building” with the web’s weakest share there in at least 11 years and possibly ever.

The opener of NBC’s firstrun five-part serial “Trade Winds,” launching the new “Great Escapes” banner, topped all non-sports ratings for the net in that slot since June 25.


CBS won the night in households, though its fall-season entry “Angel Falls” fluttered, premiering third in its slot against all-news competition. Still, it was a 30% improvement over CBS’ average in the slot this summer and the net’s closest finish behind “PrimeTime Live” since June 10. The share also equaled “Knots Landing’s” perf in the time period last season.

NBC won the night by an impressive 7 shares among adults 18-49. “Seinfeld” led the way, taking over in the 9 p.m. half-hour by topping every “Cheers” household share there since May 27.

Against the revamped Peacock sked, though, CBS’ “Eye to Eye With Connie Chung” saw its highest rating ever. CBS’ “In the Heat of the Night” also rose to the timeslot households lead in its second try in the slot it’ll occupy this fall.

Fox’s “Living Single,” a Sunday hit so far, was less impressive in a Thursday encore of its premiere episode, losing 19% of its “The Simpsons” lead-in rating. That’s Fox’s biggest dropoff in the slot since April 1.


ABC still leads the night handily among adults 18-49 but NBC tied for first in households with continuing strong numbers from “Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric.” The newsmagazine has given NBC two consecutive shares of 20 or better that hour from regular programming for the first time since March 18-25, 1992.

CBS didn’t impress with the premiere of “The Trouble With Larry,” finishing with the net’s lowest share in that half-hour in four weeks (due in large part to special “Home Improvement” competition).

“Ned Blessing” slid in rating by 19% with its second try in the 9 p.m. hour.


ABC breezed as its “Good Morning America” special served up the net’s healthiest Tuesday 10-11 p.m. share since the Barbara Walters “Turning Points” spec four weeks earlier.


Preseason football took a second-straight Monday for ABC.

In the week’s evening news race, ABC made it a full year since it last lost a week. The Peter Jennings-anchored newscast has now won 52 weeks in a row and 201 of the last 204.

NBC tied CBS for second, making it seven of eight weeks that the Peacock has earned at least a share of second in evening news, the first time since April 1991 that NBC’s accomplished that. It was also NBC’s closest finish behind ABC since Jan. 20-24, 1992.

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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