Eye heads to upset win in fall season’s opener

NBC retains households crown

The Eye has it.

CBS has won the seventh night of this fall’s new primetime season, according to preliminary Nielsens, and appears headed to an upset victory in household results when full-week figures are issued by Nielsen today.

It’s an indication of a strong premiere week for CBS, though that net isn’t necessarily poised to challenge NBC for the seasonlong households crown, since CBS’ weeklong numbers were significantly boosted by Wednesday’s Country Music Assn. Awards.

CBS also remains well behind in the key demographics that determine advertising revenue, but the Eye nevertheless appears in position to steal third place for the week from Fox among adults 18-49 (the demographic targeted by every network except older-skewing CBS). NBC and ABC are expected to finish 1-2 in that race.

Sunday night series

ABC’s attempt to replace its Sunday film with series fare got off to a competitive start, according to Nielsen’s prelim data. The new Sunday edition of “20/20” (with a 10.0 rating, 15 share in homes, 5.2/12 rating in adults 18-49) and “The Practice” (8.9/14 in homes, 5.2/13 in adults 18-49) combined for a 4% improvement in homes but a 7% falloff in adults 18-49 vs. the year-ago film “Two Came Back.”

ABC remained third for that block, 9 shares behind CBS in homes and 6 shares behind in adults 18-49.

From 7-9 p.m., ABC fell well behind its year-ago “Toy Story” results with the season premiere of “Wonderful World of Disney,” “George of the Jungle” (7.7/13 in homes, down 21%, and 4.6/13 in adults 18-49, down 30%).

‘Forever’ rates

Much of CBS’ early season Sunday momentum is attributable to its strong films. On Sept. 27, it was the Reba McEntire-Tim Matheson starrer “Forever Love” (15.2/24, up 12% in homes vs. the year-ago movie and 7.5/18 in adults 18-49, up 32%), which out-shot NBC’s three-hour net premiere of “Goldeneye” (9.8/15 in homes, 6.1/14 in adults 18-49).

CBS is having more problems maintaining growth earlier in the evening. “Touched by an Angel” (13.1/21 in homes, down 13% vs. year-ago figures, 5.5/14 in adults 18-49, down 17%) is down noticeably from last year, while “60 Minutes” (12.0/20 in homes, down 5%, 4.0/12 in adults 18-49, even with last year) remains competitive with year-ago results.

Sunday’s nightlong averages in homes were CBS, 13.9/22 (up 1% in rating vs. results for the same night last year); NBC, 9.0/14 (down 2%); ABC, 8.5/14 (down 10%); Fox, 6.2/10 (down 25%). Significant adjustments to these figures may be made Tuesday, particularly for Fox, whose 7-8 p.m. programming was preempted in the East by football.

The night’s 18-49 ratings were: CBS, 6.1/16 (up 11%); NBC, 5.4/14 (down 10%); ABC, 4.9/13 (down 20%) tied with Fox, 4.9/13 (down 22%).

NBC has suffered double-digit 18-49 losses on every night of premiere week except Saturday, which it programmed with specials. Fox was down on five of seven nights, while ABC and CBS limited losses to four nights and CBS kept all its declines within the single-digit range.

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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