NBC streaks; nets’ rebound conventional

NBC has taken its 13th-straight primetime Nielsens week with an Aug. 11-17 victory that featured the first improvement in the combined ABC-CBS-NBC rating vs. year-ago results in 34 weeks. All three nets enjoyed sizable year-to-year increases last week thanks to their low-rated summer 1996 coverage of the Republican National Convention.

The increases, though, are relatively modest compared with previous year-after-convention gains, back when the nets devoted more hours to the political gatherings. That produced bigger dropoffs during convention weeks and, thus, bigger gains a year later.

The three-net rating improved by 10% last week, but that’s well short of the 23% and 17% year-to-year increases in the summer of 1993. In the summer of ’89, the increases were 28% and 14%, and in ’85 they were 31% and 30%.

Last week’s 10% gain was the first year-to-year increase for the ABC-CBS-NBC combo since Dec. 16-22.

The Aug. 11-17 adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, a 4.4 rating, 14 share (up 16% vs. results for the same week last year); ABC, 3.7/12 (up 9%); Fox, 3.2/11 (up 7%); CBS, 3.0/10 (up 11%); UPN, 1.6/5 (up 33%); WB, 1.1/3 (down 15%).

In that demo, NBC boasted the week’s four highest-rated comedies and highest-rated drama (all on its Thursday sked), the two highest-rated newsmagazines (Monday and Tuesday ”Dateline”) and the highest-rated movie (Sunday’s ”Someone She Knows”).

In evening news, ABC took a

nosedive last week, falling behind CBS in total viewers for the first time in two years. ABC’s newscast was disrupted in the west by Monday football coverage.

Monday

NBC won big on Aug. 18 as ”Dateline” (14.2 rating, 25 share) reported the highest rating for any primetime telecast since the final game of the NBA Finals June 13. That monster number pushed NBC to its 13th Monday win in 14 weeks in adults 18-49 (including a tie), the Peacock’s best streak on that night since 1988.

ABC’s Jacksonville-San Francisco gridcast (7.7/14) couldn’t keep up, falling 13% behind the 18-49 rating of the comparable year-ago Minnesota-Miami game.

NBC’s Monday comedy lineup wrapped its nine-week summer run with an average 4.1/13 in adults 18-49, topping CBS’ rival sked by 28%. CBS’ comedies were stronger each week in households.

In late-night overnights, NBC’s ”Tonight Show” (6.5/18) equaled its best average since last Dec. 16.

Sunday

Fox maintained its grip on Sunday’s 18-49 audience, though households winner CBS rose to second in that demo and first in adults 25-54.

NBC’s U.S. gymnastics championships slipped to their lowest overall marks since at least 1991. In adults 18-49, they roughly matched the lowest primetime skating scores of the past year.

With gymnastics replacing ”Dateline NBC,” ”60 Minutes” rallied to its strongest rating since April 20 and Fox’s ”Beyond Belief” surged to its highest rating ever, despite a rerun episode.

Saturday

Fox led Saturday in adults 18-49 while CBS held on in homes and adults 25-54.

”PrimeTime Live” has a ways to go before it proves a newsmagazine is the solution to ABC’s Saturday woes. In its first Saturday try last week, ”PTL” hit its lowest rating ever. Illustrating ABC’s Saturday series problems, ”PTL” beat every adults 18-49 series rating for ABC in that slot since April, but didn’t beat a single ABC special or movie in the slot during that same span.

Friday

ABC led another Friday, though by just 1 share in adults 18-49 over NBC. ”Dateline” earned its strongest Friday numbers since May.

Fox’s gridcast dropped 3% below the 18-49 score for a comparable year-ago Denver-Dallas Saturday telecast. Football still won the night in all key male demos, and scored Fox’s best overall Friday numbers of the summer.

Thursday

NBC dominated, as usual, but ABC got its best Thursday 10-11 p.m. rating in three months from a replay of the Holyfield-Tyson ear-bite fight.

NBC’s ”3rd Rock from the Sun,” fading on Sundays, gained a surge of viewer sampling by jumping into ”Suddenly Susan’s” old slot.

”Rock” roughly equaled recent retentions by ”Susan” there.

”Promised Land” got scorched in its second try in the slot it’s skedded for this fall, falling 29% below its first-try rating. More than half that slide is due to Billy Graham preemptions, which dropped ”Land’s” clearance to 82% of the U.S., but it was still a negative sign regarding CBS’ Thursday prospects.

Wednesday

:ABC pulled 4 shares ahead of NBC in adults 18-49, as ”Spin City” showed promise in its first Wednesday start. ”Spin” built by 5% on its 18-49 lead-in from ”Drew Carey,” a big improvement over the 10% drop in that slot the previous week with ”Coach.”

Fox’s weak ”Party of Five” rerun managed to improve on the last three firstrun ratings from ”Pacific Palisades” in that slot.

”Smart Guy” is looking like a smart renewal for WB, having returned to the schedule with the netlet’s best improvement on that slot’s lead-in in 18 weeks

Tuesday

NBC moved back ahead on Tuesday, as ”NewsRadio” built by 3% on its 18-49 lead-in from ”Mad About You.” That’s NBC’s second-best perf there in 13 weeks.

”NewsRadio,” skedded for that slot this fall, has averaged a 95% retention of its 18-49 lead-in in three tries there this summer. Slot predecessor ”Something So Right,” now an ABC backup for the fall, averaged a 93% retention this post-season.

At 9:30, ”Just Shoot Me” finally hit the ratings bull’s-eye, retaining 96% of its 18-49 leadin from ”Frasier” after averaging a meager 85% in two previous tries in its planned fall timeslot.

For ABC, ”NYPD Blue” managed its best rerun rating since July 9, 1996.

CBS’ ”Dazzle” averaged a 6.9/12 over two nights, making it the third-highest-rated rerun multiple-parter out of six aired this summer.

A pair of ”In the House” reruns nabbed the top UPN rating in the Tuesday 9-10 p.m. hour in five months.

Monday

On Aug. 11, NBC’s regulars again outscored ABC’s football (Daily Variety, Aug. 13). CBS’ slumping lineup failed to equal its year-ago convention-drained average. UPN won the night among kids 2-11.

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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