If Eye web blinks, ABC may snatch Nielsen lead

ABC has edged CBS for Jan. 10-16 primetime Nielsens laurels, pulling the Alphabet net within 0.2 rating points of leader CBS in the seasonlong race — its best competitive position at this stage of the season since 1979.

CBS still has a virtual lock on the 1993-94 crown, given the expected boost of next month’s Winter Olympics, but ABC has now won nine out of 17 weeks this season, including five of the last six, compared to CBS’ eight (one of those a tie with NBC).

The Eye network finished last week close behind in households, but ABC’s margin ballooned in the valuable younger demographics. Among adults 18-49, the averages were: ABC, an 8.0 rating, 20 share; NBC, 7.3/18; CBS, 6.6/17; Fox Broadcasting Co., 5.5/14.

In household results last week, NBC ran well back in third, but, compared to the same week a year ago, NBC was up for the ninth time in 10 weeks.

Jan. 10-16’s two new series premieres came on Fox, where “The George Carlin Show” and “Monty” are off to impressive starts. The previous week’s rookie crop generally cooled except for CBS’ “Burke’s Law,” which is still attracting a large if older-skewing audience and boosting lead-out “Picket Fences.”


CBS dominated, taking advantage of a link between football and “60 Minutes” that seems to transcend network affiliation. NBC crushed the competition from 7- 23 with its overrun of a football playoff game, but when the gridcast ended, viewers switched en masse from NBC’s game to CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

NBC’s 7:30-8 p.m. “I Witness Video” share was down a staggering 32 points from the football share, while “60 Minutes”‘ went from its third-worst 7-7:30 share in 14 weeks to its best 7:30-8 p.m. share in a year.

It’ll be interesting to see if this football-“60 Minutes” symbiosis will survive CBS’ loss of NFL rights starting next fall. In any event, “60 Minutes” gets one more direct football boost this Sunday, and it should be a huge one if Dallas and San Francisco provide an even remotely dramatic contest.

Last Sunday “Murder, She Wrote” contributed to the CBS triumph with its best numbers since last Feb. 21.

Fox got a big start from “The George Carlin Show,” which held 94% of its “Married … With Children” lead-in. That’s the best Fox has done in that slot with regular programming since the premiere of “Down the Shore” finished up 4% over its “Married” lead-in on June 21, 1992.

“Carlin” won the slot among adults 18-49 and earned Fox’s best household rating there since the Aug. 30, 1992, Emmycast.

Football and a resurgent “seaQuest DSV” gave NBC the night among adults 18-49 .


CBS led in households but ABC took the night among adults 18-49 with “Problem Child 2.” In households, “Child” grabbed ABC’s best non-sports rating in that Saturday 8-10 p.m. block since April 25, 1992 (final episodes of “Who’s the Boss?” and “Growing Pains”).

“Getting By” doesn’t describe what that NBC series is doing in the 8:30-9 p.m. half-hour, where last week the struggling sitcom equaled NBC’s worst share there since Jan. 16, 1982.


CBS’ revamped lineup showed staying power, though ABC continues to own the night, particularly among younger viewers.

“Burke’s Law” held on to an impressive 93% of its powerful premiere rating the week before. That led into the top-rated “Picket Fences” since Jan. 1, 1993, and helped the entire lineup post CBS’ strongest regular-sked Friday rating since Sept. 18, 1992.

NBC’s “Viper” slowed by 13% in its second road trip in the 8 p.m. hour Friday.

Three series on ABC’s dominant lineup –“Boy Meets World,””Step by Step” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”– enjoyed season-high ratings, as “Step” reached its highest rating since the series premiered on Sept. 20, 1991.


It was another easy NBC Thursday win, though the Peacock’s “Homicide” slid 23 % compared with its previous-week return-to-the-sked rating (Daily Variety, Jan. 17). It was still the second-best NBC has done in that hour since Oct. 15.

Double episodes of “Mad About You” and “Seinfeld” produced the two highest-rated “Mads” ever and the second-and third-highest-rated “Seinfelds” ever, despite three out of the fourepisodes being reruns.

“How’d They Do That?” joined CBS’ sked with the Eye’s worst Thursday 8-9 p.m. share in four months. That helped ABC’s “Missing Persons” find its first runner-up finish yet in the hour.


ABC cruised, though its “Birdland” dove by 13% compared with its previous-week premiere. “Home Improvement” equaled its third-highest rating ever and “Grace Under Fire” hit its highest yet. “Improvement” was the week’s top program for the ninth time this season and is now the top-rated program of the season (overtaking “60 Minutes”).

Fox claimed an impressive second for the night and earned its best adults 18- 49 Wednesday rating this season. Even in households, “Beverly Hills, 90210” finished just 0.1 rating points out of the 8-9 p.m. lead and “Melrose Place” took second for 9-10 p.m.

“90210” won the 8:30-9 p.m. half-hour, making it the first Fox show in 27 nights to lead a half-hour.

“The Nanny” has had a nurturing effect on CBS’ 8-8:30 position, last week tucking the web in just 2 shares out of the slot lead. At 9 p.m., “In the Heat of the Night” captured the net’s best Wednesday 9-10 p.m. rating since the World Series, but did it with weak demos (a 5 share among adults 18-34 and a 10 among adults 18-49). The “Heat” lead-in lifted “48 Hours” to its highest rating and second win of the season.


ABC swept the night’s half-hours but Fox made the headlines with its “Monty” premiere, earning the weblet’s best Tuesday numbers ever. “Monty” improved by 69 % over Fox’s season-average slot rating, and by 89% among adults 18-49.

Fox’s gains, though, quickly subsided. “Roc” held just 60% of the “Monty” lead-in rating, as both “Roc” and “America’s Most Wanted” merely equaled what they’d averaged in the old Tuesday lineup.

“Monty” did drive another nail into the coffin of NBC’s moribund lineup, which fell to the Peacock’s worst Tuesday share since May 25. “Cafe Americain” spilled to NBC’s worst Tuesday 9:30-10 p.m. share in at least 12 years and possibly ever.


CBS started the post-football Monday season with a solid win (Daily Variety, Jan. 12).

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