B’ball can’t bounce day regulars

CBS preempted most of its programming for NCAA basketball tournament coverage on Thursday and Friday of the March 14-18 week, but that didn’t derail any of the ongoing streaks in Nielsen daytime and fringe ratings.

The Eye network won daytime for the 263rd consecutive week with its three-day average and continued its latenight dominance, while ABC took the early-morning crown and the Fox Children’s Network cashed in on sports preemptions to post huge Saturday-morning numbers.

CBS’ daytime fare averaged a 6.0 rating, 23 share, while ABC (4.8/18) and NBC (3.1/12) experienced no benefits from the absence of CBS’ regulars for opening-round basketball games March 17-18, although ABC did enjoy a solid advantage over CBS, 3.7 to 3.2, among women 18-49.

The same held true in latenight, where “Late Show With David Letterman” (5.3/ 18) kept its winning streak alive over “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” (4.5/14) and “Nightline” (5.6/16), which ran second in its half-hour.

It was nevertheless “Tonight’s” closest finish to “Late Show” in households since the week of Sept. 13, and both “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” (1.9/10) and “Later With Greg Kinnear” (1.2/8) put up respectable numbers.

‘Good’ extends

“Good Morning America” (4.3/18) extended its streak over “Today” (4.1/17) to six weeks (and 64 of the last 70 frames), while “CBS This Morning” (3.1/13) remains a distant third despite its brief Winter Olympics bounce. The ABC and NBC breakfastcasts tied among adults 18-49, with a 1.6 rating each, to a 1.0 for “This Morning.”

With CBS preempted on the West Coast for basketball, the Fox Children’s Network climbed to its second-highest share ever among the age 2-11 demographic, exceeding the combined number for the two rival webs. Averages were Fox, 8.7/31; CBS, 4.6/16; ABC, 4.3/14. FCN also posted a big lead in households (with a 4.0/ 15 to CBS’ 2.6/10 and ABC’s 2.4/9) and the top eight programs among kids, including a best-yet rating for its Children’s TV Act-compliance series “Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?” The weblet has won every week of the current calendar year in that daypart.

ABC’s 90-minute special “President Clinton: Answering Children’s Questions” preempted part of the web’s kidvid lineup and scored a 2.3/8, delivering an estimated 2.2 million viewers.

CBS offered more than 16 hours of NCAA tournament coverage Saturday and Sunday, averaging an 8.0/21 to easily top all other weekend sports programming.

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