NBC win beats spread

Sunday’s Dallas Cowboys-Buffalo Bills Super Bowl telecast has cleared the way for NBC’s highest weeklong rating and biggest margin of victory during a non-Olympic week in five years.

The Super Bowl average (a 45.5 rating, 66 share) has been adjusted upward by 0.1 rating points since Nielsen announced the figure Monday (Daily Variety, Feb. 1), to rank as the 20th-highest-rated telecast of any type since 1960 and the most-watched program ever in terms of individual viewers.

That ties it with last May’s final episode of “Cheers” as the 20th-highest-rated program of any type aired since July 1960 and highest Super Bowl since the New York Giants-Denver Broncos in ’87.

Those astronomical numbers boosted NBC to the highest weeklong rating for any network since CBS televised the miniseries “Queen” during the week of Feb. 15, 1993, and the highest for NBC since July 27-Aug. 2, 1992, during the Barcelona Olympics. Discounting the Olympics, NBC hasn’t had a better-rated week since Jan. 23-29, 1989 — the heyday of “The Cosby Show,””Cheers” and “The Golden Girls.”

Football helped NBC earn its first outright weeklong victory since the National Basketball Assn. championship (June 14-20). (NBC tied CBS for first Nov. 22-28, 1993 with NBC’s Thanksgiving telecast of “Home Alone.”)

Sunday’s Dallas victory over Buffalo ranks as the 10th-highest-rated Super Bowl, topping each of the first 11 and the last six. The nine highest-rated Super Bowls all fell in a span of peak interest that stretched from 1978 to 1987 .

Since the number of individual viewers in the U.S. is constantly rising, this year’s game is the highest-ranking telecast ever by that measure. An estimated 134.8 million watched at least some of the game, while the more conventional figure for measuring viewership — audience during an average minute — stood at 90 million.

The average number of households watching was 42.8 mil, making the game No. 2 by that measure behind only the final episode of “MASH” on Feb. 28, 1983.

With the Super Bowl scoring a staggering 39.9/76 among adults 18-49, NBC dominated the week in that key demographic. Averages were NBC, 12.1/29; ABC, 6.7 /16; CBS, 5.6/14; Fox Broadcasting Co., 5.3/13. In the 18-49 race, NBC has won four of theseason’s 19 weeks and shown an increase vs. the comparable week a year ago 12 of the past 13 weeks.

Monday

CBS prevailed in a close three-way race on Monday of this week. NBC failed to strike gold with “The Cosby Mysteries” (14.8/22), landing third for the 9-11 p.m. block. But “Cosby” did rank as the Peacock’s highest-rated Monday movie since the final Raymond Burr “Perry Mason” Nov. 29.

Topping “Cosby” was “Lies of the Heart” (15.0/23), a Jennie Garth-Gregory Harrison telefilm that equaled ABC’s best Monday vidpic rating since Feb. 24, 1992 (“Crash Landing”).

The night nonetheless belonged to the CBS lineup, which prevailed by a solid 6 shares among adults 18-49. CBS highlights included the second-slot win since premiere week for “Evening Shade” (14.2/22) and the best “Dave’s World” numbers (15.6/23) since Sept. 27.

Sunday

NBC’s “Super Bowl” coverage dominated. “The Good Life” and “John Larroquette” got decent sampling with post-gridcast airings, though they earned the weakest ratings for post-Super Bowl entertainment programming since at least the ’70s.

The previous low during the last 14 years came in 1991 when ABC tried the sitcom “Davis Rules” after Super Bowl XXV and settled for a 15.5/25. This year’s “Good Life”/”Larroquette” average of a 13.3 rating is down 26% from last year’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” post-Super Bowl showing. NBC officials noted that the scheduling was strictly to generate sampling and that the shows weren’t promoted as heavily as past new-program launches.

Saturday

CBS’ “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and “Walker, Texas Ranger” still lay down the law on Saturdays, but “Harts of the West” sags in the 9-10 p.m. slot.

“America’s Most Wanted” took over that Saturday hour with the best Fox numbers there since last May 1 and a 48% improvement over what the weblet had been averaging there with “Front Page.”

It was “America’s Most Wanted’s” strongest household perf since March 12, when the series still ran on Fridays.

Friday

Soaring interest in figure skating propelled NBC to its highest-rated Friday in three months, while the best “Burke’s Law” numbers yet drove CBS within a rating point of the Friday households lead for the first time since last Feb. 26 .

ABC’s lineup still won its 14th Friday in a row by a convincing 7 shares among adults 18-49.

NBC’s pro-skating coverage (which did not feature Nancy Kerrigan or Tonya Harding) flew 30% above the championships’ year-ago score, suggesting that overall interest in the sport has boomed since the attack on Kerrigan.

Thursday

It was another banner Thursday for NBC, with the highest-rated regular-slot “Mad About You” ever and the second-best “Wings” (highest since Jan. 3, 1991).

ABC earned barely half NBC’s adults 18-49 audience but was competitive in households, where “PrimeTime Live” reported its third-highest rating.

“Homicide” ended its four-week run with a 13.5/22 average. Even discounting its unusually high returning-episode figures, “Homicide” averaged a solid 12.2/ 20 for its last three airings despite running up against the hottest stretch ever for “PrimeTime Live.” NBC’s regular in the hour, “L.A. Law,” is averaging a 12.0/21 there this season.

Wednesday

A double dose of “Home Improvement” brought ABC an easy Wednesday victory and its best Wednesday nightlong rating since Feb. 17. ABC won the night by 13 shares among adults 18-49.

The two “Improvements” built a sturdy Nielsen hammock for ABC’s premiere of “The Critic,” which responded by holding onto a positive 87% of its “Improvement” lead-in rating and scoring ABC’s highest rating in that hour since March 4, 1992 (“The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”).

The regular “Improvement” at 9 p.m. nailed down the series’ second-highest rating ever leading into another record for “Grace Under Fire.”

The “48 Hours” segment titled “Child Hunter” tracked down that series’ top rating since March 17.

Tuesday

Interruptions for the State of the Union address effectively reduced primetime to a single hour that was easily won by ABC.

NBC got its best Tuesday 8-9 p.m. share in 11 weeks from a special “Dateline NBC.”

In its third try in the Tuesday8-8:30 half-hour, Fox’s “Monty” is down to the average rating of slot predecessor “Roc.”

Monday

CBS’ lineup made it four Monday wins in a row with its highest rating of the season (Daily Variety, Jan. 26).

Each rating point represents an estimated 942000 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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