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‘Deaf Man’ gives Eye aud’s ear

“What the Deaf Man Heard,” starring Matthew Modine, has silenced CBS’ competition for another week, guiding the Eye to its third-straight primetime Nielsens victory in households (including one tie). It’s the first three-week CBS win streak since April-May 1994, accomplished with the Eye’s highest weeklong rating since Feb. 26-March 3, 1996.

NBC maintained its 10-week winning streak in adults 18-49, and led most other key demos. In losing the week’s households race, though, NBC has probably lost its shot at winning the November sweeps by that measure.

Meanwhile, Fox’s magical month continued on Monday of this week, as “Breaking the Magician’s Code” sawed up the competition with a 15.0 rating, 22 share. That’s the top entertainment-spec rating in Fox history and, startlingly, a slot winner over “Monday Night Football” even in key male demos.

WB last week tied its best weeklong rating ever, sparked by a record Monday average. For the first time, “7th Heaven” beat a firstrun “Star Trek: Voyager” to claim the top rating of the week from the two emerging weblets. “Voyager” remained a solid 3 shares above “Heaven” in adults 18-49.

Last week’s adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, a 6.9 rating, 18 share (down in rating by 1% vs. results for the same week last year); Fox, 5.6/14 (down 7%); ABC, 5.3/14 (down 15%); CBS, 4.8/11 (up 2%); UPN, 2.0/5 (even); WB, 1.6/4 (up 7%).

Monday

Fox’s “Magician’s Code” special dazzled the competition with that net’s best non-World Series homes rating ever that hour, and second-best 18-49 non-World Series rating. Fox won the 8-10 p.m. block by all key measures and took the full night in adults 18-49, while ABC snuck ahead 8-11 p.m. in households.

ABC got in one last magic special before Fox’s “Breaking the Magician’s Code,” and managed the top ABC rating in that 8-9 p.m. hour (7.8/13) since Oscar night. An Oakland-Denver matchup (13.0/22) settled for the second-lowest “Monday Night Football” rating of the season.

CBS slipped to fourth in homes for the night, as “Brooklyn South” (6.8/11) skidded to the lowest firstrun regular-programming rating on record for CBS that hour.

Sunday

CBS’ “Deaf Man” led CBS to its highest Sunday households average since Nov. 13, 1994. The Eye also led the night in adults 18-49 for the first time in six weeks. It was the highest-rated single-episode movie on the nets since “Jurassic Park” (23.3/36) on NBC in May 1995, and the most watched sweeps program in total viewers.

Fox held the edge in that demo from 7-10 p.m., led by the fourth-best “X-Files” ever. “King of the Hill” built on its 18-49 lead-in from “The Simpsons” by 14%, a fourth-straight double-digit build for the streaking “King.”

“The Santa Clause” wrapped up ABC’s second-best “Wonderful World of Disney” rating to date, winning its slot in adults 18-49, but then at 9 p.m. “Dead by Midnight” expired for ABC’s worst in-season rating in that slot since last March 2.

NBC’s “Legends of the Fall” tripped to that net’s lowest Sunday-pic 18-49 rating in six weeks.

Saturday

Fox nabbed the night’s 18-49 win, paced by the highest household rating for “America’s Most Wanted” since Feb. 23, 1996.

CBS’ “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” helped CBS’ households push with its second-highest rating of the season, while NBC stumbled with a special “Players,” its lowest-rated telecast that hour in six weeks.

ABC’s Saturday specs generated little traction, and “The Practice” was overruled for a season-low rating.

Friday

Every network stunted, with little impact on the final results — ABC won 8-11 p.m., while Fox snuck ahead 8-10 p.m. in adults 18-49. CBS led the night in its “boomer” 35-54 demo, thanks to a “Rockford Files” pic. With no kid-appeal CBS competition for the first time this season, “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” conjured up its highest rating in eight months.

After a one-week surge, NBC’s slumping “Homicide” returned to third place in the 10-11 p.m. slot.

Despite its best lead-in of the season (from a rerun “X-Files”), Fox’s “Millennium” slipped to its lowest firstrun rating ever, and lowest for Fox that hour with regular firstrun programming in four years.

Thursday

NBC breezed, as an extra “Friends” demonstrated how lacking “Union Square” has been in the 8:30 slot so far this season. That “Friends” rerun improved on the slot’s 18-49 lead-in by 1%, while the average “Union” firstrun has lost 19%. The sagging “Veronica’s Closet” also saw its 18-49 retention (79%) droop to a new low for the fifth week in a row.

Fox’s “Deadliest”/”Scariest” pair got stung, falling 20% below the network’s previous-week Thursday 18-49 result (still topping Fox’s season average on the night).

ABC’s “Medusa’s Child” averaged a two-night 6.9/11, which is apparently the second-worst firstrun in-season multiple-parter rating in Big Three history, beating only last season’s “Apocalypse Watch.”

Wednesday

ABC beat Fox for the night by a single share in adults 18-49. ABC’s “Spin City” whirled to season-high 18-49 numbers.

UPN’s “Star Trek: Voyager” orbited above CBS’ comedies that hour in adults 18-49, but UPN fell behind WB in households.

Tuesday

“Bella Mafia” stole the night in households, grabbing CBS’ highest Tuesday rating with entertainment programming since Feb. 28, 1995.

ABC edged NBC for the adults 18-49 victory, as another extra “Home Improvement” and a “Spin City” rerun compounded the growing troubles of NBC’s rival sked. “Just Shoot Me” retained a lowest-yet 78% of its 18-49 lead-in, and “NewsRadio” sagged to an 87%, second-lowest this season. Each NBC Tuesday comedy hit a regular-slot season low.

“Bella Mafia” sent “NYPD Blue” to its lowest firstrun rating ever.

“Bella’s” two-night 14.3/22 in homes ranks it behind just four of last season’s 15 firstrun multiple-parters on the Big Three. CBS also benefited from the second-highest-rated “JAG” ever.

UPN climbed to its best Tuesday average since March 11.

Monday

“Ally McBeal” led Fox to an 8-10 p.m. 18-49 victory Nov. 17, but ABC’s Buffalo-Miami football prevailed in total prime averages (Daily Variety, Nov. 19).

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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