With the NBA playoffs and their ratings impact fading immediately into the past, the prime time Nielsens returned to business as usual last week — CBS won in households, ABC won in adults 18-49 and NBC plunged deep into last by both measures.

Having run out of the kind of high-appeal events that buoyed its numbers through most of May and June, NBC last week fell to the third-worst weeklong rating in its history, and worst ever in a week without coverage of political conventions.

Fox Broadcasting Co. had the week’s best news, as powerful twin showings of the cable-bypassing film “The Babe” allowed the weblet to improve on its rating for the comparable week of a year ago for just the second time in 16 weeks as it expanded to a full seven nights with its “Fox Night at the Movies” slot.

In a Sunday rerun, “Babe” hammered the best Fox 7-9 p.m. Sunday share since April 4 and best rating there since Feb. 28, and that was after enough people watched its Monday first run to set a Fox record for highest film share ever, in addition to the third-highest Fox film rating ever (Daily Variety, June 23).

Those results helped Fox leap past NBC in the important adults 18-49 race for the week. Those seven-night averages were: ABC, a 5.3 rating, 18 share; CBS, 4.9 /16; Fox, 4.1/14; NBC, 3.9/13.

NBC suffered a particularly steep dropoff in young-male appeal when basketball ended. For the June 14-20 week, when it aired three hoops games, NBC averaged a 7.5 rating among men 18-49, more than twice its June 21-27 3.2 average rating sans basketball.

While CBS won last week in prime time, its evening news results were n.s.g. The net’s new Dan Rather-Connie Chung team slipped within 0.1 rating points of the cellar with CBS’ lowest evening-news rating (a 7.4) since July 15-19, 1991.

CBS’ prime time win was keyed by the films “Nightmare in Columbia County,” which earned CBS’ best Sunday 9-11 p.m. share in nine weeks, and “Liar, Liar,” CBS’ top Tuesday movie share-grabber in 18 weeks.

Monday

ABC made it to the top two Mondays in a row with its Monday win of this week, taking the night with a close 8-9 p.m. second-place finish from “Day One” (9.5/ 17) and a 9-11 p.m. victory from “The Last P.O.W.?: The Bobby Garwood Story” (11 .5/20). After having won the Monday 9-11 p.m. block with a film just one other time since April 27, 1992, ABC pix have now taken the slot two weeks in a row.

Fox finished a respectable fourth for the night with the made-for “Lifepod” ( 6.5/11). That was down 29% from “The Babe’s” big numbers on Monday of last week.

Sunday

CBS moved back into control of the Sunday households race after bowing to NBC’s basketball the previous two weeks.

NBC’s “Horatio Alger Awards” got miserly numbers, NBC’s second-worst Sunday 7 -8 p.m. share since May 31, 1992, and the lowest rating of any prime time program last week.

Saturday

Fox remains in control of Saturday as far as the adults 18-49 audience goes, though the premiering “Front Page” (in its planned fall timeslot) reported Fox’s worst share in the Saturday 9-10 p.m. hour in more than five months, since Jan. 23.

“Dr. Quinn” and the Dick Van Dyke whodunit “House on Sycamore Street,” as expected, won the night in households.

Friday

ABC prevailed against wheezing network competition, though there’s no dominance this summer for the “TGIF” sitcoms. Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” again moved the closest it’s ever come to winning the Friday 8-9 p.m. hour, helping Fox finish second for the night among adults 18-49.

CBS’ new lineup got mixed results. “Street Stories” equaled CBS’ best Friday 9-10 p.m. share in six weeks, but the premiere of “Johnny Bago” fell to the net’s worst share in the 10 p.m. hour in seven weeks.

NBC got plucked with “Blossom” and “Out All Night” from 8-9 p.m., earning, respectively, the second-worst and worst shares there in 19 weeks (since the last time NBC tried “Out All Night” in the hour).

Thursday

NBC continues to lead the night comfortably among adults 18-49, but ABC breezed in households with “PrimeTime Live” and a double-dose of the old-skewing “Matlock.”

CBS’ “Eye to Eye With Connie Chung” held 97% of its solid premiere-week numbers and is a strong second at 9 p.m.

Wednesday

ABC’s “Home Improvement” continues to build enough of a timeslot bulge to shelter the rest of ABC’s less accomplished Wednesday lineup.

CBS got a promising start from “Family Dog”– the net’s second-best Wednesday 8-9 p.m. share in eight weeks. But viewers started to stray noticeably in the second half-hour.

Tuesday

CBS made it four Tuesday wins in five weeks with the incest-themed vidpic “Liar, Liar.”

NBC struck out with its “National Sports Awards,” getting sent back to the bench with the Peacock’s second-weakest share in that slot in seven weeks and doing it with a distinctly unprofitable elderly skew to the audience.

Monday

In a pair of stunners, ABC won the night in households and Fox’s “The Babe” smacked an adults 18-49 homer to win the night in that demo (Daily Variety, June 23). ABC’s “Day One” reported its best Monday rating yet (and second-best overall) while “Dead-Bang” scored as just the second ABC Monday pic to win the 9 -11 slot since April 27, 1992.

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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