“Small Sacrifices,””The Dead Pool” and a Barbara Walters-hosted preview of the “Turning Points” series propelled ABC to another decisive primetime Nielsens triumph and into a narrow lead in the July sweeps with just one night left to count in the Arbitron period and two in the Nielsen.ABC started its victorious July 26-Aug. 1 week with part two of “Small Sacrifices,” which wrapped its two-night run as the top-rated non-regular-season rerun multiparter since “North and South” Oct. 18-23, 1988 (Daily Variety, July 28). “Dead Pool” nicely bookended ABC’s week by equaling in rerun the net’s best share in the Sunday 9-11 p.m. slot since Jan. 3′s “Amy Fisher Story.” And in between, ABC earned its highest Tuesday 10-11 p.m. share in nine weeks with the “Turning Point” preview, hosted by Walters. Those highlights helped make up for ABC mid-week pratfalls from Wednesday’s “Street Match,””Delta” and “Sirens,” as well as Thursday’s “Battle of the Bands ’93,” which fell to ABC’s worst share that hour in at least 11 years, if not ever. ABC’s recovery from those low points continued into Monday of the current week, when the rerun vidpic “Rich Men, Single Women” attracted an 11.7 rating, 20 share and swept its four half-hours. “Day One” (10.7/20) also led the 8 p.m. hour with its second-best Monday numbers so far. CBS, needing a rally from its softening Monday lineup, ran third for the entire evening. Even “Murphy Brown” (9.3/16) got scooped, landing third in that slot for the first time since Oscar night last March 29. Fox’ fast-fading Monday film skidded to its lowest rating since Oct. 29, 1990 (“A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon”) this week when the Richard Grieco-starrer “Born to Run” crashed to a 3.9/7. So with one night left to count in the Arbitron July sweep and two left in the Nielsen period, ABC has moved ahead of CBS with 9.4/18 scores in both races, compared to CBS’ 9.2/18. NBC has a 7.9/18 in Arbitron and a 7.8/15 in Nielsen while Fox has a 5.5/11 in both. Among adults 18-49, ABC is dominating with a 5.2 in Arbitron and a 5.1 in Nielsen. CBS is second with a 4.4 in both, NBC has a 4.3 in both and Fox a pair of 3.6 scores. Last week’s adults 18-49 averages were: ABC, 5.2/17; NBC, 4.4/14; CBS, 4.1/14 ; Fox, 3.8/12. In evening news, CBS’ Dan Rather-Connie Chung newscast inched back into second place last week after spending three weeks in the Nielsen basement. Sunday ABC won the night by a heady 7 shares among adults 18-49 as the rerun “Dead Pool” beat the combined 18-49 numbers of the competing CBS and NBC fare. CBS won the night narrowly in households, but “Dead Pool” was the big story, swimming to the highest rating for a theatrical on any network since May 2′s “Fried Green Tomatoes” on NBC. Saturday CBS’ “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” took a bad fall, reporting its worst numbers ever (just 3 shares out of the slot cellar in households and one share out in adults 18-49), but “Circus of the Stars” came to the rescue and CBS’ four-week Saturday win streak survived. Fox remains the night’s adults 18-49 leader. Its “Front Page” is building nicely, with higher ratings each of the last four weeks, though losses during its second half-hour are a concern. Last week “Page’s” 9:30-10 p.m. rating plunged 27% below the 9-9:30 half-hour. On NBC, “Nurses” slipped behind its “Empty Nest” lead-in rating, something “Nurses’ ” predecessor, “Mad About You,” hadn’t done in its last six tries in the slot. Friday ABC easily topped the combined scores of CBS and NBC in adults 18-49 and swept the night’s half-hours in households for the fourth week in a row (including a tie for one half-hour last week). Fox didn’t have a prayer with its “Fox Friday Movie” premiere “Nuns on the Run,” tumbling to its worst Friday rating in more than two years (since July 19, 1991′s “America’s Most Wanted” and “Alien Nation”). CBS’ “Johnny Bago” has crashed, last week careening to its worst numbers yet and CBS’ worst share in the Friday 10 p.m. hour since Dec. 27, 1991 (with a spec called “The Meaning of Life”). Thursday NBC moved back into the Thursday households lead by running a special “Dateline NBC” at 10 p.m. and earning its best share there in seven weeks. “Dateline” topped ABC’s “Primetime Live” by an eye-popping 8 shares among adults 18-49. Also, the intro of “Mad About You” ran a decent third in the 8-9 p.m. hour (the sitcom is skedded for 8-8:30 Thursdays this fall), despite a weak 83% clearance by affils due to preemptions for a “flood-aid” fundraiser. “Seinfeld” fell 0.1 rating points short of equalling the combined adults 18- 49 rating of all three of its slot competitors. ABC’s six-week Thursday winning streak was torn to shreds by the “Battle of the Bands” rock spec, which dragged ABC down to fourth place for the night. Wednesday ABC offered a textbook example of how to finish third on a night despite having “Home Improvement” on the schedule. First the net suffered its worst ratings dropoff in the post-”Wonder Years” half-hour since last Sept. 2 with the premiere of “Street Match.” Then “Delta” turned in the worst post-”Home Improvement” dropoff in the 9:30 Wednesday slot since Nov. 11. Finally, “Sirens” crashed to ABC’s worst 10-11 p.m. Wednesday share since last Sept. 2. So NBC won the night in households, thanks to “Unsolved Mysteries,” though ABC still led the night by 2 shares among adults 18-49. On Fox, back-to-back “Martin” reruns topped all “Beverly Hills, 90210″ shares in that hour in the last six weeks. At 9 p.m., a special “90210″ registered Fox’ strongest share there since May26. Tuesday Buoyed by its “Turning Point” preview, ABC won this night by 7 shares among adults 18-49. Fox got its best Tuesday numbers in 10 weeks by shifting “America’s Most Wanted” to its planned fall timeslot and throwing in a couple “Martin” reruns. Monday ABC crunched Monday’s competition with the “Small Sacrifices” wrapup, the week’s top-rated program (Daily Variety, July 28).
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