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Oscar awards ABC a Nielsen win

The second-highest-rated Academy Awards telecast in 11 years presented ABC with its strongest primetime Nielsen score since Oscar week 1993 and its widest margin of victory in more than three years.

The web’s March 21-27 triumph, ABC’s third in a row, was made all the easier by CBS’ soft college basketball numbers, as ABC enjoyed its easiest weekly win since Jan. 21-27, 1991, the last time the Alphabet web televised the Super Bowl. Last week’s hoops averages were down by 17% on Thursday and 13% on Friday, compared with 1993 scores.

In addition to households, ABC dominated the week among adults 18-49. Those averages were ABC, an 8.8 rating, 23 share; CBS, 6.0/16; NBC, 5.9/16; Fox Broadcasting Co., 5.2/14. Fox remained fourth in most broad demographic categories but was second among adults 18-34.

Monday

CBS is off to a strong start in the current week, having swept the night. “Hearts Afire” (14.9/23) joined that sked by holding onto 89% of its lead-in rating from “Murphy Brown” (16.8/25), the best CBS has done in the post-“Murphy” slot in five tries.

NBC’s airing of HBO’s AIDS-themed pic “And the Band Played On” garnered a healthy 12.6/20, NBC’s best Monday-movie numbers in seven weeks.

ABC also aired an off-cable movie from Lifetime, and didn’t fare as well. “Stolen Babies” got pinned for ABC’s worst Monday-pic rating since Aug. 31, 1992 — when the web reran part two of “Reds” (3.7/6) — and the net’s worst in the regular season since Christmas Eve 1990 (a rerun of “Roots: The Gift,” 5.8/14).

NBC’s “Someone Like Me” (10.8/17) held 86% of its lead-in rating from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (12.0/19) after retaining 95% in its first try.

Sunday

CBS swept the half-hours routinely, while NBC’s coverage of exhibition skating finished up a modest 7% from the comparable 1993 figures, still NBC’s best score in the slot in six weeks.

Then the Peacock’s Robert Conrad vidpic “Search and Rescue” won the 9-11 p.m. movie race among adults 18-49, despite a weak lead-in from “seaQuest DSV,” which , in repeat, dove to its second-worst household numbers so far.

Fox held second in households and first in adults 18-49 from 8-9:30 p.m. with “Martin,””Living Single” and a “Married … With Children” rerun.

Saturday

Figure skating jumped to NBC’s first Saturday win since New Year’s night. The three hours of coverage scored 19% better than last year’s two-hour Saturday program, achieving the event’s highest marks since 1988 (12.9/23 on CBS).

ABC’s Mickey Mouse-starring “Prince and the Pauper” spec settled for fourth-place numbers, average for the web in that slot.

Friday

ABC swept the night, but NBC enjoyed its most competitive Friday finish in five months thanks to the men’s “World Figure Skating Championships” (up a sizzling 72% from last year) and “Hart to Hart,” the Peacock’s top-rated Friday-mystery rating since the first “Hart” revival pic on Nov. 5.

Skating earned NBC’s best Friday 8-9 p.m. rating since a Bob Hope spec last May 14.

Thursday

NBC claimed its 15th-straight non-Olympic Thursday.

The Peacock’s leadoff hitter, “Mad About You,” topped “The Simpsons” for the 12th time in 13 tries.

Fox’s special “Martin” held 88% of its “Simpsons” lead-in, better than anything slot regular “Sinbad” has managed in 22 tries since its premiere last September.

Wednesday

ABC dominated, but its strong-starting “Thunder Alley” and “Turning Point” are looking increasingly human.

Last week, “Thunder” quieted by 5% compared to its previous rating. “Point” was blunted by 18% and its lead over competing newsmag “48 Hours” was sliced by more than half.

Fox’s ever-strengthening “Melrose Place” held 98% of its adults 18-49 lead-in from “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

Tuesday

ABC breezed while NBC’s reworked lineup made matters only worse, fluttering to that net’s worst Tuesday rating in nine weeks.

“John Larroquette” hit its lowest firstrun rating thus far.

A special “Sinbad” didn’t help Fox’s struggling schedule, dragging the weblet to its lowest Tuesday score in five weeks.

Monday

It was Oscar’s night, with ABC reaping the second-highest-rated Academy Awards telecast since 1983, down just 0.3% from the previous year’s powerful numbers (Daily Variety, March 22).

No primetime entertainment program this Nielsen season has been higher-rated than the Oscars, with only the two nights of women’s figure skating from the Lillehammer Olympics (48.5/64 and 44.1/64), the Super Bowl (45.5/66) and a 10 -minute NFC Championship football overrun Jan. 23 (33.7/53) turning in higher scores this season than the March 21 Oscarcast.

In evening news, “NBC Nightly News” has wrapped its highest-rated first quarter since 1991 and its closest finish behind ABC since 1989.

Each rating point represents an estimated 942,000 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 in which TV is being watched during the timeslot involved.

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