With sweeps over, the primetime ratings were a bit sluggish last week, and while that’s not a serious concern for the shows that resorted to post-sweeps repeats, it is a major problem for fresh episodes, especially of new series.
One disappointment was actually a winner of sorts. “The George Wendt Show” won its time period in its debut on Wednesday, March 8, at 8 p.m. The problem is that its 10.8 rating and 18 share is not a strong sampling for a premiere episode of a series featuring a big-league sitcom star like “Cheers'” Wendt. Not only is that a lackluster rating, but every sitcom CBS has introduced in this extremely troubled time period has started at similar levels only to watch its audience rapidly erode.
Unfortunately for CBS, that was not the only slip-up of the week. After a respectable weekend, in which the network won every half-hour – albeit with relatively low numbers once again – the network bombed out from Monday through Wednesday.
On Monday, March 6, after a typical 12.4/19 for a repeat “The Nanny,” the Eye Web slipped to 9.8/15 at 8:30 with a special airing of “Double Rush – that’s 3.7 rating points below what “Dave’s World” averages in the spot. The network then shifted to repeats of “Murphy Brown” (11.8/18), “Cybill” (9.5/15) and “Chicago Hope” (9.9/17). Only “Murphy” managed even a tie for second place.
The web then went back to failing with fresh material: Its March 7 episode of “Rescue 911” scored only 9.2/14, nearly two full rating points below its average.
Then the CBS Tuesday Movie, “Boyz in the Hood” rustled up only 8.3/13, nearly three rating points below the Movie’s already low, low season average. “Boyz” finished fourth in the first hour (behind Fox’s “Deadly Invasion” too) and third in its second.
Finally, on Wednesday, CBS followed “Wendt” with another “Double Rush,” this one only managed an 8.4/13. That was however, far better then the 7.4/12 offered in the 9-10 time period by “Due South.” “Northern Exposure” finished off the evening with a third-place 8.3/14.
The only reassuring news for CBS is that while it was worse off than the other networks, it was not alone in its post-sweeps slump: Repeats of hit series such as “Home Improvement” (17.6/26) and “NYPD Blue” (13.4/23) scored 2.4 and 3.6 rating points below their season average, respectively. In fact, one reason why CBS won so easily over the weekend was the disastrous showing by ABC, NBC and Fox.
On March 4, ABC’s “Peewee’s Big Adventure” rerun earned only 5.5/10, and the network garned only a 6.2/11 for the evening. With a repeat of “Cape Fear” as its high scorer, NBC managed only an 8.8/14 for all of Sunday, March 6.
And on Sunday at 7 p.m., Fox’s “The Great Defender” debuted to an indefensible 3.4/6. No, that is not a typo; the sampling for a primetime premiere really was 3.4/6. As a result, the show was pulled from the Fox schedule.