New ‘Tom’ emerges from Olympic dust

NEW YORK — And now, back to our regularly scheduled programs … With the Winter Olympics finally over, the network schedule returned to seminormal, though some sweeps stunts remained.

One major goal for March and April is to test-run replacement shows to get a sense of their viability for next season. The first post-Olympics contestant was Tom Arnold with his new show “Tom” making its debut March 2 on CBS.

Not bad

“Tom” does not look like a gold medalist but may qualify for the next heat — its 11.1/16 was a 28% improvement over its “Nanny” lead-in, and the show performed better than its predecessors in this troubled CBS timeslot.

But the heavily promoted series still finished a distant third in the ratings , beating only ABC’s “The Critic” (which, in a discouraging sign for its future, lost nearly half of its lead-in with a 10.5/16). If, like most midseason replacements, it loses some of its initial sampling, it may not have the luxury of time to find an audience (though the Arnolds’ clout will probably help).

CBS also looked flat-footed on Tuesday, March 1, when the Grammy Awards plunged 20% from last year’s ratings to a second-place 16.1/25, the second-lowest number in two decades.

ABC Tuesday winner

ABC won the night with a 16.9/26 even though it only beat the Grammys in two of six half-hours. One was “Roseanne,” which scored a typically stellar 21.0/30 (only its fifth-best rating of the season, despite the hyped-up lesbian kiss). The other was the second half of “NYPD Blue,” which grabbed a 16.2/27 (the show earned a robust 16.1/26 overall).

Of course, CBS is still walking (skating?) on clouds after the largest margin of victory ever for a sweeps period. Through March 1 (one night remaining), CBS averaged a 22.0/34, topping the combined score of ABC 11.4/17 and NBC 10.6/16.

Record week for CBS

The Olympics averaged a 27.8/42 (up 45% from the 1992 Games), and the Feb. 21 -27 week was the web’s highest rated week ever at 30.5/45. CBS even led on non-Olympic nights with a 14.7 average, easily beating ABC’s 12.8 and NBC’s 11.7 (Fox averaged a 7.5).

For the full Olympics, Fox was the only competing network to boost its season-to-date average — it was up 3% in households and 4% in adults 18-49, compared to ABC which was down 20% and 22%, respectively, and NBC, which was down 19% and 18%. (CBS was up 114% and 145%.)

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