NBC keeps rolling in top demos

NBC remained in control of the primetime Nielsens during the June 23-29 week, winning the adults 18-49 race by at least a full ratings point for the eighth week in a row. That’s the longest such streak for any net since at least 1987.

Viewers continue to abandon the webs in record numbers, though.

Excepting weeks disrupted by the July 4 holiday, political conventions or the Olympics, last week saw the lowest weeklong household ratings ever for ABC and NBC, while CBS equaled its lowest ever. ABC’s was a record low for any of the Big 3 in a non-disrupted week.

The nets are getting hit hard this summer by aggressive competition from various non-network, non-broadcast and even non-TV sources, such as the Internet. Cable’s pay-per-view Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson bout last Saturday, for example, helped drop the night’s four-net rating by 7% vs. the previous Saturday and by 16% vs. the year-ago Saturday.

Record low forecast

This week’s averages will include the July 4 holiday weekend and will no doubt plunge well below even last week’s tepid results, perhaps to the lowest in TV history.

NBC’s still running well ahead of the pack, albeit with significant losses vs. year-ago results. “3rd Rock From the Sun,” in particular, has crumbled this summer, down 31% vs. the household rating it was averaging a year ago on the Tuesday sked.

Even so, NBC is utterly unchallenged in the key adults 18-49 demographic. Last week’s averages were: NBC, a 4.3 rating, 15 share (down 9% in rating vs. results for the same week last year); ABC, 3.3/11 (down 8%); CBS, 2.9/10 (down 3%), tied with Fox, 2.9/10 (even); UPN, 1.4/5 (down 7%); WB, 1.2/4 (even).

In evening news, ABC’s Peter Jennings-anchored report won for the seventh consecutive week, suggesting ABC may have beaten back NBC’s early-’97 challenge. NBC’s newscast had won or tied for first for 19 of the last 20 weeks before ABC’s current streak.

Monday

On Monday, June 30, the second try for NBC’s “Must-She TV” sitcom lineup was effective once again, though more in undercutting CBS’ rival sked than in improving NBC’s numbers.

Boosted by another special “Mad About You” (5.4 rating, 11 share), the femme-appeal sitcoms topped CBS by 26% in adults 18-49 (although still running 3% behind CBS in homes). “Suddenly Susan” (6.9/12), which will lead off that lineup this fall, was again the most impressive performer, building by 7% on its 18-49 lead-in at 9:30.

By splitting the audience with CBS’ similarly targeted sitcoms, NBC dropped CBS to its lowest Monday 8-10 p.m. share since Academy Awards night (and before that, since last summer’s Olympics).

Compared with the year-ago Monday, CBS’ 8-10 p.m. sked was down in adults 18-49 by 26%, while NBC itself dropped 22% behind its 8-9 p.m. sitcoms of that year-ago Monday.

While NBC led June 30 in adults 18-49, ABC’s “World of Discovery” (6.2/12) and “Women in Prison” vidpic (8.7/15) locked up the Alphabet’s first Monday households victory since April.

Sunday

Fox dominated Sunday in adults 18-49, although a special “Goosebumps” at 7 p.m. cowered to Fox’s shakiest 18-49 share that hour in eight weeks. “Goosebumps” still scored a 17 share among kids 2-11, winning the hour in that demo by 10 shares over ABC’s “Second Noah.”

CBS won Sunday in households for the 31st time in the 41 weeks since last fall’s premieres.

At 7 p.m., “Dateline NBC” fell 3 shares behind “60 Minutes” in NBC’s target adults 18-49 demo.

NBC’s “NewsRadio” (headed back to Tuesdays this fall) is showing surprising compatibility with “3rd Rock From the Sun,” last week retaining 95% of “Rock’s” 18-49 lead-in. In its last five tries, the most recent regular slot occupant, “Boston Common,” averaged an 84% retention.

“Rock,” though, is averaging a mere 12 share among adults 18-49 this rerun season, vs. a 20-share average for the ’96-97 regular season.

Last summer, the Carsey-Werner sitcom was averaging an 18 share in that demo on Tuesdays. “Rock” rolls to Wednesdays this fall.

Saturday

Fox led the night solidly in adults 18-49 and even won 8-10 p.m. in homes. CBS limped to an 8-11 p.m. households victory, despite its lowest regular-sked 8-10 p.m. rating since Aug. 1, 1992 (when it aired a movie vs. Olympics). “Dr. Quinn” equaled its second-lowest rating ever and “Early Edition” hit its lowest regular-slot score to date.

Friday

ABC breezed, as “20/20” beat the slot’s combined competition and the “T.G.I.F.” sitcoms won their two-hour block in adults 18-49 for the first time since May.

The numbers are getting scary for “Millennium” — Fox’s lowest regular-series rating that hour since April 10, 1992 (“Totally Hidden Video”). In adults 18-49, “Millennium” barely avoided fourth place in its slot, edging CBS’ “JAG.”

A special second helping of CBS’ “Dave’s World” made struggling summer tryout “Life … and Stuff” look good by failing to equal the lead-in retention of any of the three “Life” episodes aired in that slot to date.

Thursday

NBC’s lineup again topped the combined competition in adults 18-49 and virtually equaled its own year-ago results.

Wednesday

ABC won a lackluster night, triumphing by 4 shares over runnerup NBC in adults 18-49.

Two NBC sitcoms that didn’t make the fall sked went in opposite directions. “Boston Common” popped 32% above its 18-49 lead-in, while a firstrun “Chicago Sons” dropped 3% of its lead-in in a slot that usually sees gains.

Fox’s “Pacific Palisades” is fading into the UPN-WB neighborhood, last week suffering its second-worst numbers to date.

Tuesday

NBC nabbed its sixth-straight Tuesday thanks to the highest-rated “Dateline” on that night in eight airings. It’s NBC’s longest Tuesday win streak in adults 18-49 since at least 1987.

ABC’s “Roseanne” shriveled to its lowest rating ever. At 8:30, the canceled “Life’s Work” managed a solid 19% improvement on the slot’s 18-49 lead-in from “Roseanne.”

CBS’ “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All” finished behind the ratings of five of the six rerun multiple-parters aired on the nets last summer.

Monday

NBC won its fifth Monday in six weeks as its femme-appeal sitcoms got off to a satisfactory start (Daily Variety, June 25). CBS still led the sitcom block in homes and the 9-10 p.m. hour among adults 25-54.

Each rating point represents an estimated 970,000 households, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. The share is the same sort of percentage, except that it’s measured against only the households in which TV is being watched during the timeslot involved.

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