CBS’ premiere Sunday overpowers competish

'Marriage' draws top auds

CBS dominated Nielsen metered-market results for Sunday, the last night before the formal start of the 1997-98 primetime season. The Eye premiered its most powerful lineup — “60 Minutes,” “Touched by an Angel” and its Sunday pic — with an overall 2% increase over year-ago results, though “60” and “Angel” were down from last year.

CBS led in all 40 markets, winning the night by 10 shares with an average 14.1/22. That nearly doubled the results of each pursuer — NBC (7.7/12), ABC and Fox (6.7/11 each) and the WB (3.1/5).

The star of the night was the CBS film “The Marriage Fool” (14.4/22), which topped the Eye’s year-ago premiere Sunday pic (“All the Winters That Have Been”) by 15%. That balanced out dropoffs for “60 Minutes” (13.1/27, down 17% from the comparable Sunday last year despite the addition of a football lead-in) and “Touched by an Angel” (13.8/21, down 9%). CBS’ Sunday afternoon gridcast extended about a half-hour into primetime in some markets.

Fox’s “Simpsons” (9.3/14) launched its 10th season on an off-note, down 17% from last year’s premiere overnights. “That ’70s Show” (7.5/11) continues to run cool after a hot start, holding 81% of its “Simpsons” lead-in vs. a 94% retention a year ago from slot predecessor “King of the Hill.”

ABC won the night’s battle of the newsmags, as its premiere of a Sunday “20/20” (9.1/14) outscored a 90-minute “Dateline NBC” (6.7/11).

Each rating point represents 1% of the sample involved, while each share translates to 1% of the homes in which TV is being watched during the timeslot involved. Overnight ratings are a composite of the 40 markets metered by Nielsen, which account for 60% of the country’s TV homes.

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