Peacock plumps up demo lead

Angelic ratings for Roma Downey’s Sunday vidpic ”Borrowed Hearts” has elevated CBS to a tie with NBC in households for the Nov. 24-30 primetime Nielsen week. Although NBC won the week in key demos and total viewers, the tie in households gives surprising CBS a share of first in homes for a fourth straight week, the net’s longest streak since April-May 1994.

ABC was headed in the other direction last week, equaling the lowest regular-season weeklong rating in Big Three history. The Alphabet’s problems included a sputtering start for its latest Tuesday revamp and what’s apparently ABC’s lowest firstrun, regular-sked Sunday rating ever.

Older-skewing CBS remained fourth for the week in the important adults 18-49 demo, while running third in its target 25-54 demo. NBC won the week in adults 18-49 by an overwhelming 5 shares to remain undefeated this season. The Peacock did it without its usual Thursday lineup, as four straight Thanksgiving-weekend family films delivered four straight nightlong wins in the 18-49 demo. NBC won five nights of the week by this measure, its best in-season perf without major sports help since Sept. 18-24, 1989.

Fox fell into a second-place tie with ABC in the 18-49 demo when Friday-Saturday skating slipped 53% behind the net’s usual scores on those nights.

The News Corp. net still stunned the Big Three by claiming the week’s two highest ratings among adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 — Monday’s ”Breaking the Magician’s Code” and Sunday’s ”The X-Files.” ”Magician’s Code” was also the week’s third-highest-rated show in households, Fox’s top regular-season ranking ever with entertainment programming. All those Fox feats were made easier by the absence of NBC’s usual Thursday lineup.

Fox also stunned slumping ABC by beating the Alphabet for the week in total viewers.

Weeklong averages in the 18-49 demo: NBC, a 6.6 rating, 18 share (equaling results for the same week last year); ABC, 4.8/13 (down 14%), tied with Fox, 4.8/13 (down 6%); CBS, 4.2/11 (down 11%); WB, 1.5/4 (up 15%); UPN, 1.4/4 (down 30%). Bruised by low-rated skatecasts over the weekend, UPN fell behind WB in this demo for the first time in 15 months, since Aug. 12-18, 1996.

Monday

ABC dominated Dec. 1 with Green Bay-Minnesota football (16.8 rating, 28 share), which tied the second-best “Monday Night Football” rating of the season.

NBC took the runner-up spot with the second-highest-rated Monday “Dateline” thus far (13.5/22). At 8:30, the Peacock ran Sunday refugee “Jenny” (8.0/12) and retained 96% of the slot’s 18-49 average, vs. a 97% average for slot regular “Fired Up.” At 9:30, a special “Fired Up” (8.6/13) retained 98% of the 18-49 lead-in there, up from slot regular “Naked Truth’s” 86% average. Rerun competition from “George & Leo” (7.2/11) boosted “Fired.”

CBS got its brightest Monday 8-9 p.m. rating since March 3 with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (12.0/18). Though it was the third-lowest “Rudolph” telecast among its 34 to date, “Rudolph” soared 28% above its year-ago night-after-Thanksgiving rating.

Fox’s “Melrose Place” (7.0/11) settled for its lowest firstrun homes rating since Feb. 10, 1993.

Sunday

Fox’s regulars held the edge 7-10 p.m. in adults 18-49, while NBC and its ”Christmas Vacation” did better in 7-11 p.m. averages.

”Vacation” was NBC’s top-rated Sunday pic since ”The Odyssey” last May. A ”Bloopers” rerun topped NBC’s 18-49 ”Men Behaving Badly”/”Jenny” average that hour by 44%.

CBS, paced by ”Borrowed Hearts,” swept the night in homes, won in adults 25-54 and ran just 1 share out of first in adults 18-49. ”Hearts,” featuring ”Touched By An Angel” star Downey, was the week’s highest-rated telecast in households, and CBS’ second-highest-rated Sunday pic since April 1995 (behind only the previous week’s ”What the Deaf Man Heard”).

ABC’s ”Love Bug” got squashed, finishing fourth for that slot in adults 18-49 and tying the lowest ”Wonderful World of Disney” rating to date.

Fox’s ”Annabelle’s Wish” was granted the week’s highest kids 2-5 rating.

Saturday

NBC’s ”Brady Bunch Movie” faded 18% behind NBC’s year-ago 18-49 average in that slot from ”Beethoven’s Second,” but the Peacock still won the night by 5 shares in the 18-49 demo by nearly doubling the results of CBS’ rival rerun, ”Mrs. Santa Claus.” It was NBC’s best-rated non-baseball Saturday in homes this season.

Fox’s two-night ”Skate International” tumbled 38% below its previous marks, when it aired as a one-night event March 1.

Friday

NBC led the night in adults 18-49 as ”Richie Rich” cashed in a 38% increase in adults 18-49 vs. NBC’s comparable year-ago telecast of ”D2: The Mighty Ducks.” CBS glided to the nightlong households win with the top-rated ”Ice Wars” skatecast in three years.

Against all-special competition, ABC dropped to third in adults 18-49. ”Teen Angel” fluttered to what’s apparently ABC’s lowest regular-sked, firstrun rating ever in that slot, ”Boy Meets World” stumbled to its lowest firstrun homes rating to date and a ”Meet Hanson” special plunged to ABC’s worst rating that half-hour since July 4.

Thursday

NBC rested its killer lineup and still dominated the night, as ”Jurassic Park” gobbled down the competition in the Thanksgiving tradition of ”Home Alone.” ”Park” slipped by just 4% vs. ”Home’s” year-ago 18-49 rating.

ABC’s night of sitcoms took second place in adults 18-49 with that net’s best Thursday average this season, though ”Home Improvement,” ”Ellen,” ”Spin City” and ”Hiller and Diller” all fell to lowest-ever household ratings. ”Drew Carey” equaled its all-time low.

Wednesday

On the closing night of the sweeps, NBC’s ”World’s Greatest Magic” won the night in homes and almost rallied the Peacock to a sweeps-month tie with CBS by that measure. CBS specials improved on previous-week regular-sked results by just 9%, but it was enough to preserve the Eye’s sweeps-month households victory (Daily Variety, Dec. 2).

ABC nabbed the night in adults 18-49, though the Alphabet’s fading ”Ellen” slid to its lowest firstrun homes rating ever.

Tuesday

ABC got a graceless return from ”Grace Under Fire,” which fared even worse in the leadoff slot than ”Soul Man” had earlier this season. ”Grace” fell 17% below ”Soul’s” 18-49 average in three 8-8:30 tries (as well as 35% behind what ”Home Improvement” reruns have averaged there this fall). ”Grace” was third that half-hour in adults 18-49 and fourth in homes.

As happened when ”Soul” led off the night, ABC’s slow start caused trouble throughout the rest of the schedule, and ABC’s 8-10 p.m. sitcoms were swept by NBC’s. ”Frasier” beat a firstrun ”Home Improvement” in adults 18-49 for just the third time.

At 10 p.m., ”Dateline NBC” equaled its highest rating since April 1995 with the first homevideos of the McCaughey septuplets. Meanwhile, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” was Fox’s top-rated Tuesday movie of the season.

Monday

Fox led Nov. 24 results from 8-10 p.m. with its highest-rated special ever, ”Breaking the Magician’s Code” (Daily Variety, Nov. 26). ABC prevailed 8-11 p.m. in households. WB tied its best Monday 18-49 average ever.

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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