Bill’s bash boosts CBS to ratings win

CBS has made it eight victories in the last nine prime time Nielsen weeks thanks to President Clinton’s “Inaugural Gala,” which delivered CBS’ top Tuesday non-sports rating since Feb. 17, 1987.

That’s left CBS far ahead in a week otherwise most notable for the competition’s headaches:

  • NBC remained deeply mired in third, last week setting a regular-season record for worst weeklong share ever by any of the three webs.

  • ABC dropped deep into second for the week after a Saturday news spec slid to the alphabet net’s weakest regular-season rating in that slot since Sept. 26, 1987.

  • Fox Broadcasting Co. joined the Tuesday race with its lowest-rated first-try premiere night since the service launched with a Sunday schedule April 5, 1987 (though Fox starts out on Tuesdays within striking distance of third and far ahead of what its affils’ syndicated programming had been averaging previously in target demos).

CBS so dominated the week that it even topped ABC among adults 18-49. Those averages were: CBS, a 7.6 rating, 19 share; ABC, 7.4/18; NBC, 6.0/15; Fox, 5.3/ 13. ABC has won by that measure for 13 of the season’s 18 weeks.

But CBS stands little chance of extending its current seven-week winning streak, since ABC has dominated Monday of the current week with “The American Music Awards” (see separate story) and NBC will get to finish off its week with the Super Bowl, usually the year’s top-rated single telecast.

CBS’ Jan. 18-24 victory was sealed with a routine Sunday win, though ABC’s Clint Eastwood starrer “Heartbreak Ridge” led that night’s last three half-hours and beat CBS’ “Bonds of Love” head-to-head.

NBC’s historically poor Jan. 18-24 week ended with the Peacock’s worst Sunday average since Sept. 6 and lowest Sunday-pic rating (“Killer Rules”) since Sept. 13. “Killer’s” deathly numbers allowed Fox’s “Herman’s Head” to move out of fourth in its slot for the first time in its last 19 tries.

‘Class’act

Fox’s 10-11 p.m. “encore” of its “Class of ’96” preem earned the weblet’s best grades in that hour since Nov. 22.

Saturday went to CBS for the sixth week in a row. “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” continues to dominate in households and is a close second in its hour behind “Cops” among adults 18-49.

ABC’s coverage of the U.S. Figures Skating Championships slipped 7% below its ’91 ratings levels, though this year’s version did skate rings around the 10 p.m. competition. However, ABC’s news spec on education tumbled to the web’s lowest regular-season rating that hour since “Once a Hero” got slugged with a 3. 7/7 back on Sept. 26, 1987.

‘Picket’ picking up

Friday was another ABC breeze, as NBC’s “Perry Mason” again battered the older-skewing CBS competition. Leading the ABC charge was “Family Matters,” which equaled its best share since last April 3, while the strengthening “Picket Fences” was CBS’ top-rated show.

Thursday once again fell to ABC’s “Matlock” in household numbers, but NBC’s regular lineup triumphed in adults 18-49 (where the new ABC lineup remains a lamentable fourth).

“Matlock’s” second regular episode slipped by 11% from its spectacular previous-week return, but the Andy Griffith series still won the hour in households.

‘Place’ doesn’t even show

At 9 p.m., “Jack’s Place” is already facing foreclosure, plunging 42% below the rating of its “Matlock” lead-in.

Wednesday went to NBC for the first time in 10 weeks.

The difference was the 10 p.m. “Clinton Inaugural” spec, which lost the hour to CBS’ Inaugural “48 Hours” episode but still generated NBC’s best share that hour in 11 weeks.

ABC dropped to third for the night as “Coach” held just 78% of its “Home Improvement” lead-in, ABC’s weakest perf in the 9:30-10 p.m. half-hour since Nov. 11 (when “Doogie Howser, M.D.” was operating there).

Bill’s big bash

Tuesday was dominated by CBS’ “Presidential Inaugural Gala,” attracting the web’s highest Tuesday rating since last year’s Winter Olympics Feb. 11 and best non-sports Tuesday rating since a “Candid Camera” 40th Anniversary spec and the “Miss USA” pageant Feb. 17, 1987. CBS has now won or tied for first for four of the last five Tuesdays.

Up against the tough “Inaugural” competition, ABC’s “Civil Wars” joined the Tuesday schedule unimpressively, down a bit from what “Going to Extremes” was averaging in the 10 p.m. hour. The Steven Bochco hour did top “Dateline NBC,” something “Extremes” hadn’t accomplished since Oct. 13.

A “Roseanne” rerun came up second-best to the Inaugural Gala, marking the first time a non-sports telecast had beaten “Roseanne” in that slot since Nov. 19, 1991 (when “In a Child’s Name” prevailed).

Fox’s first Tuesday try settled for the weblet’s second-lowest debut-night rating yet, behind only the 3.4/5 of Fox’s first night of programming, Sunday, April 5, 1987.

Other Fox premiere-night results have been: Wednesday, July 8, 1992, 9.9/18; Monday, Sept. 18, 1989, 7.3/12; Saturday, July 11, 1987, 6.5/15; Friday, Sept. 7 , 1990, 6.3/12; and Thursday, Aug. 23, 1990, 6.1/11.

Monday, Jan. 18, remained in CBS’ column, though NBC’s strengthening sitcoms won the 8-9 p.m. hour (Daily Variety, Jan. 20).

With news interest piqued by the inauguration, all three network newscasts set or equaled their best ratings since Feb. 25-29, 1991, during the Gulf War.

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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