Eye catches NBC

CBS surges, Peacock wilts on Sunday

The rapid decline of NBC’s Sunday schedule and soft Friday and Saturday results are catching up with the Peacock, allowing CBS to pull into a tie for the Nov. 3-9 primetime Nielsens lead in households.

Among adults 18-49, NBC’s target demographic, the Peacock won the week by two shares over surging Fox, while CBS remained fourth in that vital demo.

With NBC slipping and Fox streaking, the November sweeps standings have assumed some unusual configurations. Through Monday of this week, 12 nights into the four-week sweeps, Fox is running a competitive second behind NBC in adults 18-49, while CBS has a narrow lead over NBC in households.

Those household averages are: CBS, a 10.0 rating, 16 share (even with its rating for the same period last year); NBC, 9.9/16 (down 12%); ABC, 9.6/16 (down 3%); Fox, 8.0/13 (down 1%).

In adults 18-49, 12-night sweeps averages are: NBC, 6.8/18 (down 9%); Fox, 6.2/16 (up 5%); ABC, 5.6/15 (up 2%); CBS, 4.2/11 (down 1%).

Counting only the “common time” hours programmed by Fox, NBC’s 18-49 sweeps lead shrinks to just 0.2 rating points (6.4/16 vs. a 6.2/16). Fox leads the sweeps in adults 18-34 and is third in adults 25-54, two shares ahead of CBS in the Eye’s target demo.

Fox already looks like an odds-on favorite to finish second in adults 18-49 in the February and May sweeps because by then ABC will have lost “Monday Night Football,” recently its top-rated show in that demo. Keys to CBS’ rise to a first-place tie in homes last week were a record “Touched by an Angel,” a season-high “60 Minutes” and Wednesday and Friday boosts from “Scott Hamilton” and “Candid Camera” specials.

Fox’s strong week was highlighted by another crushing demo win for the Sunday lineup, series-record 18-49 ratings for “Ally McBeal” and “Party of Five,” and a huge boost from Tuesday’s reality specials.

The Nov. 3-9 adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, 7.1/18 (down 3% from a year ago); Fox, 6.3/16 (up 11%); ABC, 5.1/13 (down 6%); CBS, 4.4/11 (even); UPN, 1.9/5 (down 24%); WB, 1.6/4 (up 7%). It was Fox’s highest weeklong average since Super Bowl week last January.

Monday

San Francisco-Philadelphia football (14.3 rating, 24 share) bounced the Nov. 10 competition. Fox claimed second in adults 18-49 with another best-yet 18-49 rating from “Ally McBeal” (7.2/11 in homes, 5.5/13 in 18-49).

NBC suffered lowest-ever firstrun homes ratings for a regular-slot “Naked Truth” (7.4/11) and “Caroline in the City” (8.2/12), while “Fired Up” (7.4/11) flickered to a season-low 88% retention of its 18-49 lead-in. NBC’s comedies still topped CBS’ by three shares in adults 18-49, while CBS’ sitcoms enjoyed a three-share edge in homes.

WB’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (3.7/6) equaled its highest rating to date.

It was another embarrassing Sunday for the Big Three, as Fox took the night in adults 18-49 by seven shares, a 50% bulge over CBS’ second-place 14. “The X-Files” uncovered its third-best adults 18-49 rating and won that hour by 13 shares in the demo. “King of the Hill” earned the week’s highest teen rating.

CBS dominated the night in homes and took a solid second in adults 18-49, with “Touched by an Angel” winging to a series-record rating.

“60 Minutes” won its hour in adults 18-49 and scooped “Dateline” by seven shares in that demo from 7:30 to 8 p.m. (a 16 share vs. a 9).

NBC’s Sunday woes continue to mount, with both “Men Behaving Badly” and “Dateline NBC” reporting their two worst ratings of the season the past two weeks.

It was another bumpy Sunday for WB, down 20% vs. year-ago 18-49 results. The deepest ratings pothole comes with “The Tom Show,” which dropped 29% below the 18-49 rating of both the half-hour before and after.

Fox led its 8-10 p.m. block among adults 18-49 with season highs from “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted.”

NBC’s 8-11 p.m. 18-49 average was higher, but the net’s “Sleepwalkers” stumbled to third in that demo at 9 p.m. and is now reportedly headed off the schedule (Daily Variety, Nov. 11). NBC was still up 2% in adults 18-49 over both the previous week and the year-ago Saturday.

CBS swept the night in households and was a close second in adults 25-54.

ABC’s teetering lineup finally collapsed, with “C-16” plunging to ABC’s worst in-season rating that hour in at least 10 years and probably ever. For the night, it was apparently the lowest-rated in-season regular-sked Saturday ever for ABC.

CBS’ “Candid Camera” spec embarrassed the competition, sending slot rivals “Players” and “The Visitor” to lowest-yet household ratings.

“Camera” zoomed in on CBS’ best 25-54 rating in the slot since April 25 (“Dukes of Hazzard”), earning CBS a surprising second-place finish that night in homes and key demos.

“Camera’s” boost also allowed CBS to tie ABC 8-10 p.m. among adults 18-49, suggesting the Eye’s planned “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” series could tighten the Friday race between ABC and CBS.

ABC won the night thanks mostly to a season-best rating from “20/20,” which featured a Marv Albert interview.

NBC’s “Players” faded to the Peacock’s lowest firstrun rating for regular programming in that slot since Christmas Eve 1993 (“Against the Grain”). Fox has declined to order additional episodes of the fading “Visitors.”

NBC rolled on, though “Veronica’s Closet” (13.8/28) cooled to its lowest retention to date of that slot’s 18-49 lead-in, 82% (vs. a year-ago 88% from “Suddenly Susan”). “Union Square” has bigger troubles, retaining just 79% of its 18-49 lead-in.

ABC’s gasping lineup may have been dealt a deathblow, finishing three shares behind even the older-skewing CBS team in adults 18-49.

ABC’s “20/20” equaled what’s apparently its lowest regular-slot rating ever.

CBS’ “Promised Land” earned its second-best rating to date.

A record 18-49 rating for “Party of Five” led Fox to its first Wednesday 18-49 victory of the season. “Party” is up a festive 28% season-to-date in that demo.

CBS’ Scott Hamilton spec earned figure skating’s best Nielsen marks since Jan. 27, 1996 (world championships on NBC). It was also CBS’ second-best Wednesday score since the May sweeps. Among those dazzled by “Hamilton” was ABC’s “Ellen,” which retained just 80% of its 18-49 lead-in, worst to date for a firstrun “Ellen” in that slot.

Struggling slot rival “Working” on NBC managed an 85% retention.

UPN didn’t gain much when it switched slots for its regulars, but did send WB to its lowest Wednesday rating in eight weeks. WB still won the night in kids 2-11.

Fox feasted on the night’s 18-49 competition with its “World’s Scariest/Deadliest” pair. From 8-9 p.m., “Police Chases” apprehended Fox’s best 18-49 rating ever that hour, including the World Series. For the night, it was Fox’s third-highest Tuesday 18-49 rating ever and more than double the net’s previous-best Tuesday perf this season.

NBC took the night in homes, as its 8-10 p.m. sitcoms sent the ABC lineup back to the shop for reconfiguration. Those ABC comedies trailed their NBC rivals by six shares in adults 18-49 from 8-10 p.m., the same stunning margin by which “Home Improvement” lost its slot to “Frasier.” With the lineup falling apart around it, “Improvement” fell to its worst firstrun rating ever.

With Fox swarming over the male audience CBS is trying to woo on Tuesdays, the Eye got stung for its worst in-season Tuesday 18-49 rating since Jan. 23, 1996.

UPN’s reskedded lineup topped CBS in adults 18-34.

On Nov. 3, Pittsburgh-Kansas City football out-muscled NBC’s “House of Frankenstein” (Daily Variety, Nov. 5). WB achieved its highest Monday 18-49 rating ever and won the night in teens.

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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