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Sweeps Pix Keep Up Disappointing Pace

With the announcement of the Oscar nominations, the nation was at least talking movies last week – but unfortunately for the broadcast networks, interest seemed low in the pix offered on television.

For the second week in a row, the February sweeps continued to be marked mostly by disappointing numbers from theatricals and telepix. Although some movies performed above the season average for the time period, there was only one, “Texas Justice,” that could be called a genuine hit, even by today’s lower standards.

For instance, none of the movies could hold a candle to NBC’s Thursday 9-11 p.m. block or ABC’s Tuesday 9-11 p.m. block. On Feb. 9, “Seinfeld,” a “Wings” stunting and “ER” snagged a superb 22.0 rating and 35 share (a slight decline from the previous week when NBC had an hour “Seinfeld” and “ER”). And ABC’s “Home Improvement,” “Grace Under Fire” and “NYPD Blue” grabbed a 17.7/28 Feb. 14.

Once again it was the Eye web that lacked eyeballs for its sweeps movies. The CBS Tuesday Movie continued to flounder with a 9.0 rating and 14 share on Valentine’s Day for “Between Love and Honor.”

Barely above water

The showing landed CBS in third place from 9-10 p.m. and an extremely distant second behind “NYPD Blue” from 10-11 p.m. (If NBC hadn’t substituted the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Special 1995” for “Dateline NBC,” CBS would most likely have finished third from 10-11 p.m. as well.)

This 9.0/14 was 20% below the season average for the movie slot. Although the Tuesday Movie has been in decline of late, it has picked a bad time to fall to the next level since one of the few reasons that sweeps really matter at the network level is in terms of affiliate relations – one of the most important primetime factors is the lead-in to the late local news, and an 8.9/16 in the 10:30-11 p.m. time period is not likely to endear CBS to affiliates.

‘Walton’ wobbly

CBS’ “Walton Wedding” on Sunday, Feb. 12 also failed to inspire a large turnout – its 14.7/22 was respectable, but not impressive as a sweeps performance. The network finished second in households but ceded most younger viewers to the other networks. NBC’s “Batman Returns” failed to return strong ratings, drawing only an 11.6/18, but the web did garner a 9.1 with adults 18-49, good for second place.

ABC’s first part of “Texas Justice” was the week’s exception to the poor telepix performance rule, busting out with a 17.1/26 and 9.8 with adults 18-49 to dominate the night. That was 31% above ABC’s Sunday Movie average and was the seventh most watched show of the week.

“Justice” part two was also relatively successful – its 15.4/23 was 33% above the ABC Monday Movie average – but it finished second to NBC’s “Sister Act” (15.9/24) in households and men and women 18-49. “Sister Act” was 14% above NBC’s Monday Movie average and combined with “Justice” to decimate CBS’ Monday series performance, which slipped 1.2 rating points from the previous week.

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