50th Emmys present win for Peacock

Fox's McGwire-ball, ABC's 'MNF' can't muscle NBC

NBC’s Sunday telecast of the 50th annual Emmy Awards has presented the Peacock with a Sept. 6-13 primetime Nielsens win, delivering enough Nielsen stature to beat out Mark McGwire-boosted Fox and “Monday Night Football”-boosted ABC.

Those rival sporting events energized the week’s competition, lifting Fox and ABC within 1 share of NBC for the week in adults 18-49. Fox won the week in adults 18-34 and men 18-34 and 18-49.

NBC’s four-hour coverage of Sunday’s Emmys was a disappointment in one sense — its 13.6 rating, 23 share is just a 1% improvement over last year’s results on CBS, which were the lowest-ever for a Big Three Emmycast. But NBC’s numbers were dragged down significantly in the low-viewership 7-8 p.m. hour, not previously included in earlier Emmy ceremonies.

In fact, NBC’s 8-11 p.m. segment, which roughly coincides with the kudocast’s traditional timeslot, earned a 14.9/24 — higher than any Emmy tally since 1986.

The overall 13.6 rating keeps the Emmys deep in the shadow of March’s Academy Awards (34.9/55) but in the range of the Grammy Awards (17.0/27) and the Golden Globes (15.9/25), and ahead of most other kudocasts, including the American Music Awards (12.1/19) and the Daytime Emmys (10.2/19).

The week also featured five Friday-through-Sunday primetime newsmags covering the Kenneth Starr report on the Monica Lewinsky affair, but viewer response was unexceptional. Friday’s “20/20” did best, with a 12% improvement over its previous-week rating. ABC also got the highest evening news numbers that day, and “World News Tonight” won the week in adults 25-54.

CBS ran a five-night “JAG-a-thon” of “JAG” reruns in the 8-9 p.m. hour. The marathon produced a husky 37% improvement vs. summer averages in those slots among men 18-49, as well as CBS’ best non-sports adults 18-49 results since May in the Wednesday and Thursday slots.

Adults 18-49 averages for the Sept. 6-13 week were: NBC, a 4.8/14 (down in rating by 2% vs. results for the year-ago week, when CBS aired the Emmys and Fox premiered much of its lineup); Fox, 4.4/13 (down 12%); ABC, 4.3/13 (down 9%); CBS, 3.2/9 (down 9%); WB, 1.2/3 (even); and UPN, 1.0/3 (down 52%). Fox’s average does not include Sunday 7-7:30 results, and may be adjusted slightly when those numbers are figured in.

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were: HBO, a 1.3 rating, 4 share (up 8%); ESPN, 1.2/4 (up 71%); MTV, 0.9/3 (up 350% vs. the same week last year and up 13% vs. the week of the MTV Music Video Awards last year); TNT, 0.8/2 (down 33%); USA, 0.6/2 (down 25%); TBS, 0.6/2 (down 40%); and Lifetime, 0.6/2 (up 20%). Early-season NFL football has switched in the past year from TNT to ESPN.

Sunday

NBC’s Emmys dominated the night, improving over CBS’ year-ago 18-49 Emmy tally by 17%, and by 27%, counting just this year’s 8-11 p.m. segment.

Despite rugged Emmy competition, CBS’ broadcast premiere of “Goodfellas” earned CBS its best men 18-49 Sunday-pic rating since March 22. But “Goodfellas” slipped 37% below the adults 18-49 numbers of the comparable year-ago Emmy-night film, “True Lies” on Fox (4.7/12 vs. 7.5/19).

WB debuted its Sunday lineup against tough Emmy competition and declined by 8% vs. last year’s week-earlier premieres, but improved by 20% on its 1997 Emmy-night rating. Premiering rookie “The Army Show” held just 75% of its lead-in from “Unhappily Ever After,” matching the retention of the last firstrun episode of canceled slot predecessor “Alright Already.”

Saturday

In what’s considered the season debut of its “Night of Arresting Television,” Fox topped its year-ago premiere 18-49 average by a muscular 29% and won the night by 5 shares in that demo. It was the highest-rated “America’s Most Wanted” season premiere in five years.

ABC’s Notre Dame-Michigan State coverage barely avoided breaking the one-week-old record for lowest-rated network primetime college gridcast ever, but still scored the Alphabet’s second-best Saturday 18-49 rating in six weeks.

Friday

Fox’s new 8-9 p.m. sitcom lineup is in immediate and serious trouble, debuting with less than half the 18-49 rating of last year’s premiere of “The Visitor” in that slot. “Living in Captivity” landed in the Nielsen slammer with Fox’s worst-ever firstrun homes rating that half-hour.

Release of the Kenneth Starr report stirred up the highest “20/20” rating since May 22, and the top Friday “Dateline” numbers since June 12, but “48 Hours” (in a special airing) reported its lowest tally in 10 years, since July 14, 1988.

A newsmag lead-in and tougher slot competition sent “Homicide” spiraling 24% below its promising previous-week rating.

Thursday

“Seinfeld” left the network schedule with a whimper, as the rerun of its finale tied the series’ second-lowest Thursday NBC rating ever, barely one-fifth the episode’s firstrun rating. That led to the second-weakest NBC Thursday rating this summer.

Wednesday

The retrospective farewell edition of “PrimeTime Live” led ABC to a Wednesday win with that newsmag’s best rating since May 13. Starting this week, the newsmag switches to the “20/20” moniker after eight seasons as “PrimeTime Live.”

“Sister Act 2” preyed on the competition, earning Fox’s highest movie rating since the last “Sister Act 2,” airing Feb. 19.

“Star Trek: Voyager” beat the WB competition in homes, the first time a UPN show has scored better in homes than its WB competition in any timeslot since July 7, nine weeks ago.

Tuesday

The highest-rated regular-season baseball telecast in 16 years led Fox to an easy Tuesday victory (Daily Variety, Sept. 10). It was Fox’s highest September nightlong rating since 1989.

Baseball competition struck out “Dateline,” which trudged back to the dugout with its lowest Tuesday rating since Dec. 31, 1996.

CBS’ “Under Siege” rerun captured the Eye’s best Tuesday male demos with nonsports programming since April 23, 1996 (“The Hunt for Red October”), suggesting CBS is making good use of the promo muscle of its Sunday afternoon football.

Monday

ABC’s gridcast blitzed the Sept. 7 competition, despite the lowest households rating for a “Monday Night Football” opener ever (Daily Variety, Sept. 10). The Denver-New England matchup was still up 1% from last year’s “MNF” launch in adults 18-49. The game’s earlier kickoff also brought ABC a nightlong 24% increase vs. last year in adults 18-49 with a 119% jump from 8-9 p.m. The hour-earlier “MNF” start resulted in ABC’s top-rated non-Academy Awards Monday since Nov. 18, 1996.

Against that earlier pigskin competition, UPN’s “In the House” equaled its lowest rating ever and Fox’s “Melrose Place” equaled its second-lowest firstrun rating ever.

Each household rating point represents an estimated 994,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV households. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.239 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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