ABC closes in on CBS’ ratings lead

ABC is back within 0.3 rating points of CBS’ season-to-date primetime Nielsens lead — its best competitive position at this point in the season since 1979 — after taking the Dec. 13-19 week, ABC’s second in a row.

The most disturbing sign for CBS in last week’s loss was the absence of exceptional specials in the winning ABC lineup. The Alphabet network got better-than-average results from a Pittsburgh-Miami “Monday Night Football” matchup, a Wednesday news spec on the Menendez trial and some Saturday yuletime animation, but ABC essentially beat CBS straight up with regular programming.

While the Winter Olympics still appear to assure CBS of a season-long Nielsen victory, it’s worth noting that ABC has won four of the last five weeks that haven’t been disrupted by either sweeps-month stunts or the World Series. Since the end of the World Series, CBS has averaged a 12.6 rating compared to ABC’s 12 .7.

Overall, CBS has won sevenweeks this season, ABC six.

Last week’s most noteworthy ratings perfs came from NBC’s “Bob Hope” and “Christmas in Washington” specials, which unwrapped the Peacock’s highest non-sports Wednesday rating since April 30, 1992 (appealing to a dramatically older audience).

The week’s adults 18-49 results: ABC, a 7.4 rating, 21 share; NBC, 6.0/17; CBS, 5.4/15; Fox Broadcasting Co., 4.9/14. They were CBS’ worst and NBC’s second-worst averages in that demo this season.


ABC made it three consecutive Monday wins at the start of the current week, as the N.Y. Giants-New Orleans “Monday Night Football” gridcast (17.2/29) led the way; however, “Day One” (8.2/14) fumbled to its lowest rating in two months. CBS suffered season-low ratings from every series on its Monday lineup, while Fox’s 40th-anniversary TV Guide spec (5.6/9) was down one share from the weblet’s Monday season average.


CBS hasn’t lost a Sunday this season in households and has swept each half-hour the last three weeks. Still, among adults 18-49, CBS was an uncompetitive third last Sunday, onlya half rating point ahead of Fox. NBC and its “Back to the Future, Part 3” led in that demo for the fourth Sunday this season.

The Peacock’s “Good Cop … Bad Kid?” pub-affairs spec settled for NBC’s second-worst slot rating this season.

For the first time, Fox’s “Martin” and “Living Single” both finished second in households for the Sunday 8-9 p.m. hour, also winning among adults 18-49. “Married … With Children” also won its slot by that key measure.


The rerun vidpic “O Pioneers!” helped CBS dominate the night in households. The adults 18-49 race was nearly a four-way tie, though CBS squeezed out a win there too.


ABC swept another Friday, as NBC’s first post-Raymond Burr “Perry Mason Mystery” settled for the lowest firstrun “Mason” vidpic rating ever. But it was also NBC’s best slot performance in four weeks.

NBC’s “Against the Grain,” needing a dramatic ratings reversal to avoid its final Nielsen harvest, instead got thrashed to NBC’s worst rating in the Friday 8 p.m. hour since Aug. 27.

CBS’ “Shame on You!” wilted by 24% in rating compared with its last episode two weeks earlier. In the same hour, Fox’s “X-Files” uncovered its best adults 18-49 share since premiere week, helping Fox take second in that demo for a third consecutive night (Wednesday through Friday).


NBC continues to own Thursday, especially among young adults, where the net more than doubled the share of its closest competitor in the adults 18-49 demo (NBC earned a 31 from 8-10 p.m., compared with Fox’s 15).

CBS might be a bit nervous about that quick renewal of “Second Chances,” meanwhile, after it equaled CBS’ worst rating for a firstrun Thursday 10-11 p.m. slot regular since Oct. 1, 1992 (“Middle Ages,” 6.3/11). For the night, CBS’ struggling lineup matched its worst share since Aug. 5.


NBC sledded to just its second Wednesday win of the season courtesy of “The Bob Hope Christmas Special” and “Christmas in Washington.”

“Hope” gave NBC its cheeriest Wednesday 8-10 p.m. rating since Aug. 5, 1992, and “Washington” sang the sweetest NBC Wednesday 10-11 p.m. rating since the NBA Finals last June 16.

Last year both yule specs aired on Saturday and didn’t do nearly as well. This year, Hope jumped up a glorious 62% while “Washington” improved by 39%.

But NBC’s demo skew last Wednesday was downright elderly. Among adults 18-49 the Peacock barely avoided a fourth-place finish with less than half leader ABC’s 26 share.


ABC dominated, as “Coach” equaled its series-record rating and retained 98% of its “Roseanne” lead-in rating (Daily Variety, Dec. 16) –“Coach’s” best post-“Roseanne” retention ever.

NBC’s Tuesday numbers continued to shrivel, as the headed-for-the-bench “Second Half” got sacked for its lowest numbers yet.

“X-Files” looks like a possible Tuesday winner for Fox. It tracked down the weblet’s best Tuesday 8-9 p.m. rating since “Robocop 2” earned a 6.3/11 there last May 18. And this special “X-Files” cruised just 0.2 rating points below the series’ Friday ratings average.


ABC’s Pittsburgh-Miami gridcast prevailed with the second-best “Monday Night Football” rating in 12 weeks (Daily Variety, Dec. 15).

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety