Ratings fizzle over the Fourth

The Fourth of July holiday has brought the usual collection of record-low primetime Nielsen results, but continued summer strength from “Dateline NBC” has kept the Peacock first in June 30-July 6 averages.

The week featured the lowest-ever ABC-CBS-NBC combined rating, an 18.7, just below the 18.8 earned the week of last August’s Democratic National Convention. ABC suffered its lowest rating ever, a 5.6, but it wasn’t a Big Three record — CBS slipped to a 5.3 during the Olympics in July 1996. NBC’s 6.6 rating is the lowest to ever win a week and the second-lowest in Peacock history.

NBC just hung on to win the week in households over CBS, but, as usual, the adults 18-49 race was no race at all. With NBC’s Monday and Tuesday editions of “Dateline” scoring the third- and second-highest 18-49 ratings of the week, respectively, (behind only “Seinfeld”), NBC remained three shares ahead by that key measure.

Those weeklong adults 18-49 average were: NBC, a 3.9 rating, 14 share (down 7% in rating vs. results for the same week last year); ABC, 3.1/11 (down 9%); CBS, 2.8/10 (down 3%); Fox, 2.7/10 (even); WB, 1.3/4 (up 44%). UPN results were not available.

Record lows are routine for July 4 weeks, with their combo of warm evenings and holiday activities. Last week’s rate of homes using TV dropped 5% from the previous week. Friday, July 4, showed the biggest week-to-week falloff, 22%.


NBC took Monday, July 7, by three shares among adults 18-49.

“Dateline NBC” (10.0 rating, 18 share) continued to rule as the Monday heavyweight, though NBC’s female-appeal sitcom lineup kept 18% ahead of CBS’ rival sked among adults 18-49 (while trailing the CBS competition by 11% in homes). The Peacock’s “Fired Up” (5.6/11) continues to lose its slot in homes and adults 18-49 to CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond” (7.2/14).

ABC’s underexposed “Family Pictures” (6.5/12 for Monday’s part two) finished its run with a 5.9/11 average, ranking it below five of six rerun multiple-parters aired on the nets in summer ’96.

Fox’s fading Monday lineup finished 24% behind the net’s comparable year-ago 18-49 rating.


CBS won a Sunday outright in adults 18-49 for the first time in 63 weeks (having tied Fox once during that stretch), as “Awakenings” led the 9-11 p.m. film derby in the 18-49 demo, and “60 Minutes” and “Touched by an Angel” also took their hours by that measure.

“Awakenings” also managed to improve by 14% on its year-ago firstrun 18-49 rating.

NBC’s crumbling “3rd Rock From the Sun” bounced back last week to win its 8-8:30 slot in adults 18-49 for the first time since its 3-D episode May 18. “Rock” also rolled 7% ahead of NBC’s year-ago 18-49 score in that half-hour with “Mad About You.”

Fox’s juggernaut “The X-Files” continues to broaden its audience, scoring last week’s highest rating among men 25-54.


Fox prevailed in adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 and all key male demos, capturing its highest 18-49 Saturday share in 16 weeks. CBS led in homes despite the second-lowest-rated “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” ever and the lowest “Early Edition.”


The Fourth of July holiday dragged the rate of homes using TV (HUT) down to 36.5%, compared with a 46.5% the previous Friday. It was therefore no surprise when every network series fell to its lowest rating ever, except NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries” (which still hit its lowest regular-slot rating) and ABC’s “20/20.”

ABC and NBC tied for first in adults 18-49, while NBC inched ahead in adults 25-54 and ABC won in homes.


Early holiday tune-out (HUT levels dropped by 10% vs. the previous Thursday) undercut NBC’s usually big Thursday numbers. “Friends” and “ER” hit their second-lowest scores ever, and “Seinfeld” settled for its second-low Thursday rating. NBC still won the night by a full three rating points among adults 18-49 and 25-54 over runner-up ABC.

In four Thursday tries, “Men Behaving Badly” is averaging a 100% retention of its 18-49 lead-in from “Friends.”


ABC nearly lost the night when a “Senior Prom” documentary stumbled to what’s apparently the Alphabet’s worst rating ever in the slot. That led to the lowest-rated “Drew Carey” ever. “PrimeTime Live” rescued the night for ABC by dominating the 10-11 p.m. hour.

Fox led virtually all key demos at 8-9 p.m. with its repeat of “Busted on the Job,” while WB’s sitcoms won the night among teens.


NBC extended its Tuesday winning streak, longest since at least 1987, to seven weeks in a row, although ABC finished just a tenth of a ratings point behind in adults 18-49. “Dateline NBC,” featuring the first interview with heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield since his controversial bout with Mike Tyson, bit off the week’s highest households rating.

“The Naked Truth,” scheduled for the Monday “Must-She” lineup this fall, settled for skimpy Tuesday numbers, retaining 86% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Mad About You.” Canceled slot regular “Something So Right” has averaged a 93% retention with its last five airings. ABC countered “Naked” with the canceled “Grace Under Fire,” which improved by 21% on its 18-49 lead-in, vs. a 16% average increase for the last five airings of slot regular “Life’s Work.”


NBC’s female-appeal lineup led June 30 in adults 18-49, while ABC snuck ahead in homes (Daily Variety, July 2).

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