Peacock, Eye in tight homes race

Preliminary national Nielsens for Friday and Saturday show CBS whittling down NBC’s November sweeps lead, as those two networks continue toward what looks to be a photo finish in the November sweeps households race.

NBC started the sweeps’ final week with a big Thursday victory, turning CBS’ 0.2-rating-point sweeps-to-date lead into a 0.3-rating-point NBC lead. In preliminary Friday and Saturday results, though, CBS is inching back toward the month-long lead.

Fox pulling away

NBC remains in control of the key adults 18-49 demo, most eagerly sought by advertisers, in a race that shows upstart Fox pulling away from ABC in the battle for second and CBS mired in fourth.

In preliminary Nielsens for Saturday, CBS (with an average 9.3 rating, 16 share) beat NBC (6.6/12) by a healthy 4 shares in households and also edged the Peacock in adults 18-49. Fox won that demo with a 4.9/14, adding to its sweeps-month second-place 18-49 advantage over ABC (2.2/7 for the night).

The key Saturday battleground was 8-9 p.m., where NBC’s special showing of “Players” (5.7/10) fell to the Peacock’s weakest rating that hour in six weeks, while CBS’ “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (8.9/16) sewed up its second-highest rating of the season.

CBS also shaved a sliver off NBC’s sweeps-month households advantage on Friday, according to prelim figures. A “Rockford Files” telefilm (9.0/16) gave the Eye a nightlong second-place 9.1/16, compared with NBC’s nightlong 8.3/15.

At 10 p.m., NBC’s “Homicide” (7.8/14) slipped back into the slot cellar after a previous-week surge from a crossover with “Law & Order.” CBS slot rival “Nash Bridges” (9.2/17) rebounded to season-high numbers.

Fox’s special “X-Files” rerun (6.0/11) from 8-9 p.m. helped that net win Friday 8-10 p.m. in adults 18-49, but ABC managed Friday’s highest 8-11 p.m. 18-49 and homes averages. The first try for ABC’s revamped “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (8.4/15 from 8:30 to 9:30) provided a minor boost, then a flat “Flubber” promo-spec (6.3/11) almost dropped ABC out of the nightlong lead.

In final nationals for Nov. 20, NBC’s dominating Thursday lineup scored its best numbers since premiere week (20.8/32). For a fifth week in a row, though, the fading “Veronica’s Closet” (18.5/28) slipped to the lowest retention to date of its 18-49 lead-in, 79%.

Once Friday and Saturday results are finalized early this week, just four nights will be left to calculate into the November sweeps’ final averages.

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