The start of the new year has given CBS the boost it needed to snap a three-week ABC winning streak and grab the Dec. 27-Jan. 2 primetime Nielsens week.The New Year’s holiday brought a double whammy for ABC. Low viewership levels for younger audiences on New Year’s Eve contributed to ABC’s lowest Friday share since Aug. 27. Then, on New Year’s night, ABC got sacked in the battle of the Bowls, as its Sugar Bowl finished with less than one-third the audience of NBC’s competing Orange Bowl. CBS climbed back into the race on those two nights, getting its closest Friday finish behind ABC since last Feb. 26 and the Eye’s highest Saturday rating in five weeks. CBS then sealed the weeklong win with a big Sunday households victory, courtesy of the third-highest-rated single-episode vidpic of the season, “Jane’s House.” NBC dumped ABC into third for the week and won the adults 18-49 demographic, thanks mostly to its big Orange Bowl numbers (NBC’shighest-rated Saturday since the Barcelona Olympics, Aug. 1, 1992) and the high-octane premiere of “Viper,” an easy winner of the Sunday 9-11 p.m. slot among adults 18-49. The weeklong averages in that key 18-49 demographic were: NBC, a 7.7 rating, 20 share; ABC, 7.3/19; CBS, 6.2/16; Fox Broadcasting Co., 4.4/11. CBS notes it won the ’93 calendar-year Nielsens race. Those averages were: CBS, 11.8/20; ABC, 11.4/20; NBC, 10.5/18; and Fox, 6.9/12. Still, ABC remains just 0.3 rating points behind CBS in season-to-date household standings through 15 weeks, the season’s halfway point, representing what the Alphabet web says is its best competitive position by that standard since 1979. During the current week, meanwhile, NBC got off to a rocky start with its revamped Tuesday sitcom four-stack, averaging just a 12 share from 8-10 p.m. “Dateline NBC” (10.1/16) also had its lowest rating since Nov. 9. Sunday CBS swept the night’s half-hours in households, but among adults 18-49, NBC won Sunday by a comfortable 8 shares with “Viper” and a strong football overrun. “Viper” scored the best men 18-49 rating for an NBC vidpic since Nov. 27, 1988 (“In the Line of Duty: The FBI Murders”), and was the highest-rated vidpic on any net among adults 18-49 since last May 23 (“In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco”). The show premieres in its regular 8 p.m. slot Friday. Fox sent in “Code 3″ for the ailing “Townsend Television” and improved on the “Townsend” slot average by 26%. Saturday The night belonged to NBC’s Orange Bowl, a cliffhanger game that determined college football’s national championship. Compared to last year’s national-championship Sugar Bowl, this year’s rating slipped by 2%, while the game opposite the No. 1 showdown was up this year by 30 %. It was the highest-rated Orange Bowl in three years, airing opposite the second-lowest-rated Sugar Bowl ever (ahead of only the 4.9/8 of the ’91 Tennessee-Virginia matchup). Though CBS earned solid numbers by counterprogramming against the double-dose of football, it was still that net’s worst-rated New Year’s Bowl night in at least 13 years. Friday ABC won New Year’s Eve by 6 shares among adults 18-49 but by just one in households, as CBS’ “Diagnosis Murder” two-hour rerun earned the best Eye share in the Friday 8-10 p.m. block since the baseball playoffs Oct. 8. Thursday NBC made it six Thursday wins in a row despite a special 10 p.m. airing of “seaQuest DSV” that dove to NBC’s lowest share that hour since Aug. 12 (“South Beach,” 6.0/11). Wednesday “Home Improvement,” the week’s top-rated show for the seventh time in 15 weeks this season, is still carrying ABC’s Wednesday lineup, but its schedule mates are starting to lend some support, with a “Grace Under Fire” repeat drawing big numbers as the 9 p.m. tandem ran 1-2 for the week among adults 18-49 . “George” and a stunt telecast of “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” also generated encouraging slot improvements, though that exposure didn’t spill over to the Man of Steel’s subsequent Sunday flight. CBS’ “The Nanny,” renewed for the balance of the year, is looking good in the 8 p.m. half-hour, starting there with CBS’ second-best numbers in that slot since the World Series. The Eye’s “Kennedy Center Honors” was down 4% from its ’92 telecast, but the spec roughly equalled its average rating over the last six years. Tuesday It was smooth skating for ABC’s Tuesday lineup, as usual, though CBS’ “Rescue 911″ took the 8 p.m. hour and “Dateline NBC” grabbed the 10 p.m. hour (tying its best rating of the season against the lowest rating yet for “NYPD Blue,” a repeat). Fox’s Tina Turner spec equalled the weblet’s best Tuesday 8-9 p.m. rating ever and established a Fox slot record among adults 18-49. Monday San Diego-Miami football made it four ABC Monday wins in a row (Daily Variety , Dec. 29). 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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