Super Bowl a demo TD for Fox

Fox’s first Super Bowl telecast has put some impressive numbers up on the Nielsen scoreboard — Fox’s sec-ond-highest-rated week ever in homes and highest-ever in adults 18-49, with both the highest-rated night and sin-gle program in Fox history.

The weblet has also now claimed the two highest-rated weeks for any network this season in both homes and adults 18-49, with its results for World Series week and Super Bowl week topping both lists.

On the negative side, the Big Three nets, which had never before faced a Super Bowl on an alternative outlet, sunk to their lowest combined regular-season weeklong share ever — a 43. ABC was hardest hit, falling to the lowest weeklong regular-season rating in its history — an 8.1

The competitive nature of Sunday’s Green Bay-New England gridfest helped Fox avoid with surprising ease the potential indignity of scoring the lowest weeklong rating ever for a net carrying the Super Bowl. That distinction still belongs to CBS, which, in 1990, managed just a third-place 12.8 rating, 21 share the week it aired a 55-10 San Francisco-Denver blowout. Less than two hours of that game ran in primetime.

In fact, among adults 18-49, this year’s was the second-highest-rated Super Bowl week in the last six years, behind only NBC’s 13.5/33 in ’96. Last week’s adults 18-49 averages were: Fox, an 11.9 rating, 29 share (up 177% over results for the same week last year); NBC, 5.7/14 (down 58%); ABC, 4.2/10 (down 21%); CBS, 3.6/9 (down 14%); UPN, 1.7/5 (down 37%); WB, 1.1/2 (down 8%). Monday-Saturday averages had Fox in third with a mere 4.5 rat-ing for the week, but Sunday’s huge 34.0 nightlong 18-49 average propelled Fox to its burly 11.9 for the week.

NBC had won 17 of the season’s first 18 weeks in the 18-49 demo, previously losing only to Fox during World Se-ries week. Season-to-date, Fox has now pulled within 0.1 rating points of second-place ABC in this key demo. It’s Fox’s most competitive position at this point in the season ever.

Monday

ABC dominated Monday of this week despite the lowest-rated “American Music Awards” ever (13.2 rating, 21 share, down 4% from ’96). Among awards shows, “AMA” slipped behind this season’s Country Music Assn. Awards (14.9/24), the Emmys (14.4/23) and the Golden Globes (13.4/21). It was still ABC’s highest-rated Monday since November and highest-rated non-football Monday since the Academy Awards in March.

NBC’s three-hour “Joy Luck Club” (10.6/17) was second for the night in homes, but the Fox lineup (6.8/10) was stronger in adults 18-49.

Sunday

Football put Fox in the Nielsen end zone with the highest nightlong rating of any net this season.

An estimated 128.9 million watched at least some of the game. That makes the Packers-Patriots shootout the fourth-most-watched U.S. telecast ever (and the highest Super Bowl not to feature the Dallas Cowboys) in terms of total viewers, a measure that benefits from the constant inflation of overall population growth. By rating (a per-centage of U.S. TV homes), it was the 38th-highest-rated telecast since 1960 and 17th-highest-rated Super Bowl out of 31 to date.

Fox’s nightlong 38.0 rating beat the weblet’s previous highest-rated night (game five of last October’s World Series, 20.5/32) by more than 17 points.

“X-Files” followed the Super Bowl with a record rating of its own, beating its previous best by nearly 4 rating points. Though down 42% from last year’s Super Bowl “lead-out” (NBC’s “Friends”), “X-Files” was the second-highest-rated post-Super Bowl entertainment program in four years.

Far behind Fox’s football fireworks, CBS and NBC tied for second Sunday among adults 18-49.

Saturday

CBS swept the night’s half-hours in homes and adults 25-54, though “Dr. Quinn” topped a rerun “Pretender” by just 0.1 rating points among adults 18-49.

The Nielsen judges were tough on NBC’s skating, giving the world pro championships their lowest marks since ’93, the year before the Nancy-Tanya affair. Skating’s two-night 8.9/16 is down a steep 21% from last year’s scores, when NBC ran its two-night coverage in 8-10 p.m. slots.

Friday

NBC slipped in its Friday pursuit of ABC, as the Peacock preempted two-thirds of its lineup for more old-skewing skating.

At 8 p.m., a special “Dateline NBC” excelled, reporting the network’s best non-Olympics 18-49 average in that hour since last Feb. 9. Skating blew that lead at 9 p.m., though. Without the Peacock’s regulars to contend with, CBS’ “JAG” and “Nash Bridges” hit regular-slot record ratings, with “Bridges” climbing to CBS’ best regular-series rating in that slot in two years. Also, Fox’s “Millennium” moved back into the 9-10 p.m. lead among adults 18-49 with its best marks in seven weeks.

Thursday

NBC won the night by an astonishing 28 shares among adults 18-49 as “ER” more than tripled the com-bined score of the ABC-CBS competition in that demo.

“The Naked Truth” continues to virtually match the attractive figures of slot predecessor “Suddenly Susan.” Last week “Truth” retained 91% of its 18-49 lead-in from a repeat “Seinfeld,” nearly equaling “Susan’s” 92% the one time a firstrun “Susan” has followed a rerun “Seinfeld.”

A pair of “Murder One” episodes earned that struggling drama’s second and third best ratings since Oct. 17.

Wednesday

The highest-rated rerun “Drew Carey” to date and a Dennis Rodman interview on “PrimeTime Live” led ABC to another Wednesday win. “PTL” reported its best adults 18-49 rating since Jan. 24, 1996.

NBC rookie “Chicago Sons” continues to look good, building by 19% on its 18-49 leadin from “Wings.”

CBS’ struggling lineup faded further. “Coast to Coast” eroded by 7% compared to its unimpressive premiere 25-54 rating of the previous week, while “Orleans” sunk 6% below its poor week-two 25-54 average.

At 8:30, CBS’ “Pearl” retained a lowest-yet 65% of its 25-54 lead-in from “The Nanny.”

WB’s “Wayans Bros.” and “Jamie Foxx” won their half-hours among teens and beat UPN’s “Star Trek: Voyager” in homes for the first time in three months. At 8 p.m., UPN’s impressive sophomore “The Sentinel” captured its best-yet rerun rating.

Tuesday

ABC won a moral victory, tying NBC among adults 18-49 despite airing all reruns 8-10 p.m. vs. NBC’s fir-struns. For the season, though, NBC has whittled away a third of ABC’s year-ago Tuesday advantage among adults 18-49.

Monday

With viewer interest heightened by the tragic death of Bill Cosby’s son Ennis, “Cosby” led CBS to its biggest Monday households win since premiere week (Daily Variety, Jan. 22). WB’s “7th Heaven” rose to its highest rating to date, despite a rerun episode.

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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