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ABC puts end to CBS streak

ABC has snapped CBS’ three-week primetime Nielsen winning streak, taking the Dec. 6-12 period with a combination of football, Barbara Walters and Christmas films.

CBS’ schedule continues to sag in the middle, failing last week to win a single half-hour between 9 p.m. Monday and 8 p.m. Saturday. And except for Sunday, CBS didn’t win a half-hour between 9 and 10 p.m. all week.

NBC was done in last week by its under-performing longforms and specials, falling to its lowest weeklong average since Aug. 30-Sept. 5.

“A Kiss to Die For” knockedNBC to its lowest-rated regular-season Monday since Jan. 25; holiday specs delivered NBC’s lowest regular-season Friday score since last Jan. 1; and “The Jetsons” and “E.T.” crashed to the Peacock’s lowest Sunday rating since Sept. 5.

Regular series had their problems too — even “The Mommies,” which got two promotional showings during the week and still equaled its lowest regular-slot numbers yet on Saturday, due in part to a low 93% clearance.

Still, NBC notes, the week’s two bonus “Mommies” showings exposed the series to 48 million viewers. Thursday’s episode set a “Mommies” rating record and improved on its “Mad About You” lead-in (though by a bit less than does slot regular “Wings”).

Keys to ABC’s weeklong victory were the weekend yulepix “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Ernest Saves Christmas”; Wednesday’s Barbara Walters “Twelve Most Fascinating People of 1993” (which topped the average of slot regular “Moon Over Miami” by 11 shares); and Monday’s Dallas-Philadelphia gridcast, the highest-rated “Monday Night Football” game in 11 weeks.

ABC enjoyed its most lopsided win of the season in the adults 18-49 category, taking the week with a 7.8 rating/21 share. That topped CBS and NBC, at 5.8/16 each, as well as Fox Broadcasting Co.’s 4.6/12.

ABC says it’s now running the closest to first in household season-to-date standings that it’s been at this time of the year since 1981.

Fox was out of the household race last week but excelled in teen demos, placing eight of its 19 shows among the week’s teen top 20.

Monday

ABC made it two Mondays in a row Dec. 13 as a Pittsburgh-Miami gridcast (17.8 /29) scored the second-highest “Monday Night Football” rating in 12 weeks.

NBC ran third for the night with “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s” lowest regular-season, regular-slot rating (12.0/19 in rerun) since April 8, 1991 and “Blossom’s” (12.3/19) lowest of the season.

Sunday

“Gypsy” outstripped “E.T.” and “Christmas Vacation” to lead a CBS sweep of the night in households, but “Vacation” drove off with the adults 18-49 audience , where “Gypsy’s” skimpy average merely tied “E.T.’s,” a full 12 shares behind “Vacation.”

Old-skewing “Gypsy” did a 46 share among women 50 and older but a 15 among women 18-34.

“E.T.” has suffered a rapidly eroding orbit on net TV, plunging from 18.4/34 and 12.7/25 scores on CBS Thanksgiving night of ’91 and ’92, to this year’s 9.9/ 15 on NBC. By contrast, the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz,” televised annually for decades, has never rated lower than this year’s 11.9/18.

Fox’s wheezing “Townsend Television” equaled its worst numbers to date.

Saturday

CBS held the lead in households and adults 18-49, despite the lowest numbers yet for “Harts of the West.” ABC was a competitive second with “Ernest Saves Christmas.”

Friday

It was another ABC Friday sweep, the Alphabet network’s fourth in five weeks.

CBS hammered down its highest “Picket Fences” rating since last Jan. 22, while Fox’s “X-Files” landed its best rating since premiere week.

Thursday

NBC cruised as usual on Thursday. A special “Mommies” finished within 1% of what slot regular “Wings” has averaged in the 8:30-9 p.m. half-hour. Then from 9 -10 p.m. “Seinfeld” and “Frasier” beat the combined adults 18-49 score of the ABC, CBS and Fox slot competition.

CBS’ second try with “Second Chances” landed third in the 10-11 p.m. hour, but with a slim 13 share among adults 18-49.

Numbers for Fox’s “Sinbad” are getting a little flabby. Last week the rookie sitcom held just 70% of its “Simpsons” lead-in rating, “Sinbad’s” lowest retention yet in firstrun.

Wednesday

ABC breezed with “Home Improvement,””Grace Under Fire” (retaining a series best 88% of its “Improvement” lead-in rating) and the Barbara Walters spec.

Fox’s “Billboard Music Awards” slipped 3% in rating compared to last year’s coverage but was the second-highest-rated Billboard kudocast out of the four aired so far. It was Fox’s lowest Wednesday share in eight weeks.

CBS’ latest disaster in the Wednesday 9-10 p.m. hour is “Top Cops,” which last week was cleared in just 83% of the country (a Billy Graham special contributed to low network clearancesthroughout the week) and got busted down to CBS’ lowest rating that hour since July 4, 1984 (“America at the Olympics,” 5.1/ 12 from 9-10 p.m.).

Tuesday

ABC swept the Tuesday half-hours as “NYPD Blue” captured its hour despite equaling previous-week lowest-yet numbers.

Rigor mortis may have set in for NBC’s Tuesday sitcom lineup, thanks to low clearances (just 82% of the country saw “Saved by the Bell” and “Getting By”) and the complete domination of “Roseanne” and “Coach” in the 9-10 p.m. hour (both shows in rerun easily more than doubled the audience of their firstrun NBC competition). “Bell” and “Getting” got rung for NBC’s worst share in the 8 p.m. Tuesday hour since June 1. Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” nabbed its highest rating since Aug. 31. “Bakersfield, P.D.,” in rerun and bound for hiatus, also equaled its best regular-slot share in nine tries.

Monday

With the popular Dallas Cowboys returning to “Monday Night Football,” that series rallied to its strongest rating since the Kansas City-Denver game of Sept. 20. That handed ABC its first Monday victory in five weeks (Daily Variety, Dec. 8). In a special Monday showing, CBS’ “The Nanny” had its first slot win.

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