CBS steals homes for Nov. victory over NBC

NBC has made it close, but CBS is the official winner of the November sweeps households race, ending NBC’s streak of eight-straight major sweeps victories and giving CBS its first sweeps win since November 1994.

NBC still won the month easily in the key adults 18-49 demographic, making it nine straight major sweeps wins by that measure. Fox took second place in the 18-49 demo for just the second time in a major sweeps, while also winning the month in the valuable adults 18-34 breakout. ABC rose to second place in adults 25-54, another important audience to advertisers.

CBS was fourth by all those demo measures, but did beat Fox for third in a ”boomer” 35-54 demo touted by CBS. The Eye web also won the month in total viewers.

Final sweeps averages in households were: CBS, a 10.3 rating, 17 share (up in rating by 1% vs. November 1996 results); NBC, 10.2/17 (down 10%); ABC, 9.3/15 (down 8%); Fox, 8.1/13 (up 4%).

Adults 18-49 standings were: NBC, 6.9/18 (down 4%); Fox, 6.0/16 (up 5%); ABC, 5.5/14 (down 7%); CBS, 4.4/11 (down 4%).

The households race went down to the wire, with CBS bringing in last-minute reinforcements Wednesday to protect its lead. That late cavalry — ”Candid Camera” (8.8/15) and ”Touched by an Angel” (8.3/14) — only managed a 9% improvement over what CBS’ Wednesday regularly earned the previous week, but it was enough to preserve CBS’ narrow monthlong victory.

NBC’s ”World’s Greatest Magic 4” (10.0/17, up 3% from last year) couldn’t make CBS’ monthlong 0.2-rating-point lead disappear altogether, but ”Magic” did saw that CBS advantage in half.

The two-hour special conjured up NBC’s first nonsports Wednesday win since August and cursed the competing ”Touched by an Angel” with its lowest firstrun rating since Dec. 14, 1994.

ABC Entertainment prez Jamie Tarses congratulated Fox for its second-place sweeps finish in adults 18-49, but noted ABC is still No. 2 in adults 18-49 for the season-to-date and predicted the Alphabet web will outduel Fox for that position in seasonlong results.

Tarses said ABC’s November performance represents another solid step in that network’s ongoing rebuilding process and is hopeful ABC has put in place some key ”building blocks” that are turning around that net’s fortunes.

She acknowledged the first try for returning regular ”Grace Under Fire” (7.7/13) Tuesday didn’t meet ABC’s high expectations for that 8 p.m. slot, but said the net is hopeful ”Grace” will show improvement and has contingency plans if that isn’t the case.

CBS notes that eight of its 17 returning series managed year-to-year rating growth in November, vs. 1 of 18 for NBC, 2 of 11 for ABC and 7 of 11 for Fox.

Each household rating point represents an estimated 980,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.23 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it measures only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.

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