CBS hits ratings homer

With Carol Burnett and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” on its side, CBS has scored its highest rating and biggest victory margin since the World Series.

Dominating prime time Nielsen results for the Jan. 4-10 week, CBS also ascended to the highest weeklong rating for any network without the benefit of a major sports event since Sept. 16-22, 1991.

The Eye web did it with Sunday’s “Carol Burnett Show Reunion,” which helped the net to its highest Sunday rating since the Winter Olympics, and highest without benefit of a major sporting event since Feb. 26, 1989 (with “Naked Lie” on the schedule).

Another key to CBS’ victory was the solid second-week “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” performance, which gave CBS its fourth Saturday win in a row and its second straight with all series programming. Both those feats had not been achieved at CBS in at least 11 years.

Also buoying CBS last week were a satisfactory launch for Wednesday’s new sci-fi hour “Space Rangers,” the first CBS sweep of Monday’s half-hours since Aug. 31 and a Tuesday victory thanks to “Rescue 911” (equaling its best rating since Jan. 7, 1992) and the vidpic “In the Company of Darkness.”

With ABC’s rescheduled “Going to Extremes” having died on Tuesday, CBS was able to make it three straight Tuesday wins (including a tie), which again is something the network hadn’t accomplished in at least 11 years.

CBS’ big weeklong win was somewhat older-skewing, but the net managed to tie ABC among adults 18-49 with matching scores of an 8.0 rating, 19 share. NBC settled for a distant-third 6.7/16 and Fox Broadcasting Co. finished with a 5.7/ 13 by that measure.

CBS now looks to be back in control of the seasonlong ratings race, after ABC had pulled within striking distance before the current five-week CBS winning streak.

ABC has faded with the loss of its powerful “Monday Night Football,” plus continuing softness on Tuesdays and Fridays and no relief yet for its Thursday and Saturday difficulties.

Third-placer NBC has some serious problems but did manage last week its best household and adults 18-49 averages since the Nov. 16-22 week.

CBS is back in the lead again for the current week, having won five of six half-hours on Monday, Jan. 11. NBC’s “Blossom” (14.4/21) topped CBS’ “Hearts Afire” (14.0/21) to prevent a CBS sweep.

After being shut out of the slot lead for 15 weeks, CBS’ “Love and War” (17.4 /26) made it two slot wins in a row with its highest rating since Sept. 28.

ABC enjoyed solid numbers from “FBI: The Untold Stories” (11.9/18) and “American Detective” (12.7/19). Excepting the Oct. 19 night of presidential debates, it was ABC’s best Monday 8-8:30 share since July 27 and best 8:30-9 share since April 27.

CBS’ Jan. 4-10 weeklong win was nicely capped Sunday when the “Carol Burnett Show Reunion” delivered the web’s highest non-sports Sunday 9-11 p.m. rating since Feb. 3, 1991 (“Sarah, Plain and Tall”). That won the night for CBS in both households and adults 18-49. ABC was a strong second in both categories with the solid vidpic “Dead Before Dawn.”

Ratings, she wrote

CBS also benefited that night from the best-rated “Murder, She Wrote” in three years.

NBC found no signs of life in “Elvis & the Colonel,” ending up with the unhealthiest Sunday 9-11 share for any network since the Peacock got a 13 from “Deadly Medicine” last Sept. 13.

Saturday went again to CBS, its second in a row with regular-series programming.

Before New Year’s week, CBS hadn’t won a Saturday with all series programming since it tied ABC back on Jan. 26, 1985 (with “Otherworld,””Airwolf” and “Cover Up” against ABC’s “T.J. Hooker,””Love Boat” and “Finder of Lost Loves”).

‘Quinn’ powerful medicine

The big hitter for the new CBS Saturday sked is “Dr. Quinn,” which, in its second Saturday try last week, held on to 94% of its strong previous score. “Quinn” also narrowly topped Fox’s “Cops” to win the hour among adults 18-49.

NBC tried repeats of “Empty Nest” and “Nurse” in the 8-9 p.m. hour to blunt “Dr. Quinn” and equaled its best 8-8:30 share in 10 weeks and best 8:30-9 share in six weeks.

Friday was claimed by ABC for the 16th time in the season’s 17 weeks, as the “20/20”-led lineup won the night by 7 shares among adults 18-49. NBC’s “I’ll Fly Away,” meanwhile, descended to a season-low share, heading toward the end of its second-season run in early February.

Thursday went narrowly to NBC, but the Peacock won that night’s adults 18-49 race by 7 shares as well. In that demo NBC dominated every half-hour after “The Simpsons.” The Peacock’s “A Different World” earned its best adults 18-49 rating of the season (a 7.8) and equaled its best share since shifting back to 8:30 in October.

In rerun, Fox’s strong “Martin” slipped to fourth place in its slot for the first time in its rookie season.

CBS was a close second for the night, thanks to “Top Cops’ ” best rating since last Jan. 23 and second-straight sweep of the 8-9 p.m. half-hours.

Wednesday was again a virtual three-way dead heat, though CBS nosed ahead to win the households race (while finishing third in adults 18-49). It was CBS’ first Wednesday households win with a full regular schedule since Aug. 26.

‘Space’ soars

The key was the premiere of “Space Rangers,” the first CBS regular slot occupant in that 8-9 p.m. hour to beat the ABC competition in more than a year (since Jan. 1, 1992). “Rangers” started even stronger among adults 18-49, barely losing the hour by that measure to NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries.”

CBS also benefited from the highest “In the Heat of the Night” rating since last March 3.

ABC stayed last 8-9 p.m. and 10-11 p.m. but still won the night among adults 18-49 by 5 shares thanks to the runaway strength of “Home Improvement,” which hammered out its highest rating ever.

‘Extreme’ trouble

Tuesday slipped out of ABC’s hands again, due almost entirely to the departing “Going to Extremes.” CBS snuck in to win the night by doubling the “Extremes”‘ 10-11 p.m. rating with the otherwise routinely performing “In the Company of Darkness” vidpic.

“The Jackie Thomas Show” continues to lose yardage, last week fumbling 30% of its “Roseanne” lead-in rating. Besides two incompatible 9:30 “Homefront” airings , ABC hasn’t seen a bigger dropoff in that slot since May 21, 1991.

Also, “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” has lost the 8:30 half-hour four of its last five tries for ABC. Even so, ABC still won Tuesday among adults 18-49 last week by 4 shares.

NBC continues to die on Tuesdays. Last week “Quantum Leap” fell to its worst firstrun rating since April 21, 1989.

Monday was swept by CBS’ regular lineup (Daily Variety, Jan. 6).

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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