ABC gets last laff on last sweeps night

The best “American Comedy Awards” rating since 1988 closed the February Nielsen sweeps in fine fashion for ABC on Wednesday, in part at the expense of two first-year NBC dramas.

CBS concluded the official 28-day Nielsen survey period with a 15.1 rating, 24 share (down 9% from last year’s Winter Olympics-boosted total), while ABC improved to a 13.0/21 (up 7%) and NBC fell 13% off February 1991 to an 11.4/18.

Fox Broadcasting Co., which increased its weekly programming menu by four hours, averaged an 8.2/13, down 5% in rating and one share vs. year-ago figures.

The George Schlatter-produced comedy kudocast, switched from last year’s May sweeps up to February, improved by 45% to post a 15.8/26, easily sweeping the 9- 11 p.m. slot. On the flip side, NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” (7.6/12) and a preview of the new Dick Wolf hour “Crime & Punishment” (9.1/16) settled for fourth and third in their slots, respectively, in terms of both households and adults 18-49.

CBS concluded the sweep period winning 18 of 29 nights during the overlapping Nielsen and Arbitron rating periods, which differ by one day. NBC was the last network to win that many nights during a major sweeps period, back in May 1989.

The Eye network also led among adults 18-49 for the sweeps period, followed closely, in order, by ABC, NBC and Fox. Aside from bragging rights the sweeps remain particularly significant for stations outside the roughly 30 larger markets that are metered by either Nielsen or Arbitron.

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