Peacock low-balls way to big victory

Despite record-low numbers for the first two games of the World Series, baseball’s Fall Classic has pitched NBC to its best weeklong rating since February and widest primetime Nielsens margin of victory since early June.

The first two World Series games averaged a 13.0 rating, 23 share, down 13% from last year’s opening pair of games, the previous lowest-rated first two games ever.

NBC’s overall baseball score, though, is somewhat better than what was reported Monday in Fast National results (Daily Variety, Oct. 21), when it appeared both games fell below the previous worst-rated single World Series telecast ever.

Sunday’s final national score of 15.0/24, up 14% from the Fast Nationals average, actually is just the fourth-lowest-rated World Series telecast ever. Saturday’s number went up by 10%, but still easily is last among all World Series games ever telecast.

The losses for baseball’s premier event follow a league championship round that wrapped Oct. 15 averaging a 9.4 rating, 17 share in primetime, equal to last year’s results despite the year-ago ratings boost of a seventh National League game. This year’s first round of the playoffs generated a 6% increase in primetime, to a 7.6/13.

ABC remained solidly in second last week in adults 18-49, a position the net has held every week of the season, despite a 10% falloff season-to-date. ABC is running 2 shares ahead of third-place Fox in that demo so far this season (though the race will tighten after “Monday Night Football” wraps its season at the end of the calendar year). CBS has run second or tied for second in households each week this season.

Last week’s averages in the key adults 18-49 demo were: NBC, a 7.3 rating, 20 share (up 11% vs. results for the same week last year, when Fox aired the World Series); ABC, 5.4/15 (down 8%); Fox, 4.3/12 (down 25%); CBS, 3.9/11 (down 7%); UPN, 1.8/5 (down 10%); WB, 1.4/4 (down 13%).

Monday

NBC scored on its “Blind Date Monday,” winning the night in adults 18-49 vs. “Monday Night Football” for the first time since Nov. 11.

The Peacock web averaged a 6.2 rating, 16 share in adults 18-49 for the night, topping ABC’s 5.7/16. ABC inched ahead in homes, with a 10.1/16 vs. NBC’s 10.0/16.

ABC was hampered by a weak “Monday Night Football” matchup between Buffalo and Indianapolis, which resulted in season-low “MNF” numbers (12.8/22). For its eight telecasts this year, the grid series is running 15% below year-ago household results.

The “Blind Date” theme night boosted NBC’s four Monday sitcoms to some season-best marks. At 8:30 p.m., “Fired Up” (8.3/13) improved on its 18-49 lead-in for the first time, and at 9:30, Tea Leoni starrer “The Naked Truth” (9.6/15) retained a season-best 90% of its 18-49 lead-in.

“Suddenly Susan” (8.4/13) and “Caroline in the City” (10.2/15) added slot victories in the 18-49 demo. “Caroline” tied football for the 9-9:30 half-hour in households, marking the first time since Nov. 11 that any show has matched “MNF” in homes for even a single half-hour.

NBC has been somewhat sensitive to press criticism of this year’s Monday sitcom strategy, which had resulted in a modest 5% falloff in adults 18-49 over the first four Mondays of the season. On Oct. 20, the season’s fifth Monday, NBC improved by 32% vs. the same night last year (when it faced World Series competition).

ABC’s Monday troubles are most severe at 8 p.m., where the now-canceled “Timecop” (4.5/8) fell to lowest-yet 18-49 results.

CBS’ Monday sitcoms finished 5 shares behind NBC’s in adults 18-49 and 1 share ahead in homes. At 10 p.m., “Brooklyn South” (8.7/15) looked healthier after two rough weeks against baseball. “South” still couldn’t challenge slot rival “Dateline NBC” (11.7/20), which reported its best Monday numbers this fall.

Despite two weeks of baseball preemptions, Fox’s “Melrose Place” (7.4/12) and “Ally McBeal” (6.7/10) slipped just 2% from their previous 18-49 averages.

Sunday

Despite earlier Fast National results to the contrary, NBC’s baseball won the night in homes as well as adults 18-49 with NBC’s best Sunday numbers since Game 4 of the NBA Finals. CBS lost the nightlong win suggested by the Fast Nationals, but still reported the best “60 Minutes” rating of the season despite baseball and football opposition that hour. The lack of “Dateline” competition for the first time this season no doubt added a tick to the “Minutes” numbers.

ABC’s up-and-down “Wonderful World of Disney” definitely was up on Sunday with “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” which targets girls and young women (the demos least interested in the World Series), and conjured up the second-best “Wonderful” rating to date.

Saturday

It was the lowest-rated World Series telecast ever, but good enough to win the night by 7 shares in adults 18-49 with NBC’s best Saturday score since Dec. 21.

ABC’s “The Practice” stayed just 2 shares behind CBS’ “Walker, Texas Ranger” in adults 18-49, but the rest of that ABC lineup still is far out of the race, 27% behind year-ago 18-49 results from a failing lineup.

Friday

NBC’s premiering lineup won the night in both homes and adults 18-49, but with relatively unexciting numbers (Daily Variety, Oct. 21).

“Players” premiered down 3% from last year’s season debut for “Unsolved Mysteries” in that slot, and the lineup as a whole faded 4% below last year’s Friday premieres (which came in week one of that season). “Homicide: Life on the Street” slipped by 13% vs. its year-ago premiere 18-49 rating.

The 8-10 p.m. battle of the family sitcoms continues to take its toll on ABC, which slumped to what’s apparently its lowest in-season Friday rating ever with firstrun regular programming. Compared with year-ago slot results, ABC’s comedies were down by 19% in adults 18-49, while CBS’ rival sked broke even.

ABC still prevailed in the 8-10 p.m. window by 3 shares in adults 18-49; pulled a 23 in teens and 18 in kids. ABC’s biggest problems are with its 9-10 p.m. rookies, which each slumped to that net’s worst regular-sked firstrun ratings in those slots in 10 years.

Against NBC’s “Players” premiere, Fox’s fairly promising rookie “The Visitor” faded to third that hour among adults 18-49 with worst-yet numbers.

Thursday

NBC’s Thursday dominance is reaching surreal proportions — last week that NBC lineup doubled the combined ABC-CBS-Fox rating in adults 18-49.

It was a brutal night for the various Thursday rookies. ABC’s “Nothing Sacred” and “Cracker” look to be finished, as ABC plunged 30% below its year-ago 18-49 nightlong average. Fox’s “Between Brothers” and “413 Hope St.” — weakened by two weeks of baseball preemptions — dragged that lineup 31% below results for the most comparable year-ago Thursday in adults 18-49. (Fox has announced that “413 Hope St.” will be preempted by specials during the November sweeps.)

NBC’s “Union Square” served up its best 18-49 lead-in retention in three weeks (84%), while “Veronica’s Closet” slipped to its lowest yet (85%). Year-ago retentions in those slots were 91% and 81% respectively, indicating “Veronica” still is the stronger performer relative to slot expectations.

Up against “ER” and “20/20,” CBS’ “48 Hours” stumbled to its lowest rating since July 14, 1988.

Wednesday

CBS’ Wednesday lineup emerged from the shadow of baseball looking far more competitive than it had earlier. Bryant Gumbel’s “Public Eye” improved by 32% on its previous 18-49 average and a special musical “Chicago Hope” grew by 12% over the previous week to move into a tie with “Law and Order” for second that hour in the 18-49 demo.

It was a rugged night for NBC, with “Working” declining sharply in its second try and no longer looking much like a potential hit. One important indicator, though, continues to reveal some promise: “Working” built by 7% on its 18-49 lead-in (though that’s down from a 29% build with its week-earlier premiere).

The 8-9 p.m. hour has been a disaster for NBC, last week falling to what’s apparently the second-worst rating that hour in NBC history (ahead of only last summer’s special “Steve.oedekerk.com”).

“Built to Last” assured its cancellation, landing below even the WB competition, the first time any WB primetime program has beaten any Big Three slot rival in households. That led to the lowest firstrun rating ever for “3rd Rock From the Sun” and the lowest firstrun regular-slot “Law & Order” since February 1993.

Tuesday

ABC’s regulars outscored NBC’s baseball by 5 shares in adults 18-49 despite the highest non-World Series baseball rating since the July ’96 All-Star Game.

Not contributing to the ABC rally was the struggling “Hiller and Diller,” which retained just 66% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Home Improvement.” It’s ABC’s lowest retention in that slot since June 1996.

At 8:30, a “Soul Man” rerun improved by an encouraging 8% on its 18-49 lead-in.

CBS’ Tuesday lineup once again found baseball to be tough competition, slipping 11% below the Eye web’s year-ago 25-54 Tuesday average.

“Moesha” set a UPN slot record for teens (5.5/18).

Monday

With baseball splitting the Oct. 13 sports audience, ABC’s Dallas-Washington football outing barely beat the NBC competition in adults 18-49 (Daily Variety, Oct. 15).

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 an estimated 1.23 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A 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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