Eye plucks Peacock

CBS wins week as NBC slumps post-'Seinfeld'

NBC has begun the post-“Seinfeld” era with a households loss to CBS in May 18-24 primetime Nielsen results, NBC’s first defeat in seven weeks.

The Peacock remained solidly first in adults 18-49, a key demographic race NBC hasn’t lost since Oscar week in March.

Last Wednesday’s rerun of the “Seinfeld” finale symbolizes NBC’s prompt post-“Seinfeld” fall from grace. That sitcom’s farewell episode, which earned the highest-ever “Seinfeld” rating in firstrun May 14, plunged to the worst-ever “Seinfeld” network rating in rerun May 20.

CBS collected the weeklong win in households with Monday’s “Murphy Brown” finale, Wednesday’s retrospecials, a surprising Thursday “Diagnosis Murder” that slammed the door on “Veronica’s Closet” in homes, Friday gains from “Unsolved Mysteries” and routine weekend victories. Some of those boosts didn’t translate to the key demo categories, and CBS stayed fourth in adults 18-49 and third in adults 25-54.

Last week’s adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, 5.0/16 (down 15%); Fox, 4.0/13 (down 13%); ABC, 3.9/13 (down 13%); CBS, 3.4/11 (down 6%); WB, 1.5/5 (up 36%); UPN, 1.4/4 (down 30%). NBC has won at least three nights in this demo for seven straight weeks, its longest such streak since January-March 1990.

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were: TNT, 1.2/4 (down 37%); TBS, 1.2/4 (up 50%); USA, 0.8/3 (up 33%); ESPN, 0.4/1 (down 56%); Lifetime, 0.4/1 (even); Nickelodeon, 0.4/1 (up 33%).

Fox led the nets last week among adults, men and women 18-34.

Tuesday

On May 26, ABC nabbed its first Tuesday win in five weeks, as “Home Improvement” (10.0/17) bopped a “Frasier” (7.2/12) that was rushed onto the sked when the Lakers were swept in the NBA semifinals, leaving no hoopcast that night for NBC. At 8 p.m., ABC’s “Soul Man” (6.4/12) matched NBC’s “Mad About You” (6.4/12).

ABC’s “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” (7.9/13) continues to cool, losing 13% of its 18-49 lead-in in a special Tuesday showing, despite a firstrun episode. Slot rival “Just Shoot Me” (7.9/13 in rerun) built by 17% on its 18-49 lead-in.

Monday

ABC’s regulars took May 25 in households and tied NBC’s lineup for first in adults 18-49. “20/20” (10.7/18) and “Dateline NBC” (9.8/18) led the way with the night’s top two scores in both homes and adults 18-49.

Sunday

NBC’s “Guarding Tess” kept the Peacock safe in first among adults 18-49 (tied with Fox 7-10 p.m.), while CBS floated above the competition in homes despite waterlogged results from its rerun of the November 1996 two-parter “Titanic.” Compared with last summer’s six rerun multiple-parters, “Titanic” merely tied for the fifth-highest rating.

Saturday

Fox took the night in adults 18-49, CBS prevailed in homes, and ABC and NBC collapsed. “Jury Duty” is apparently ABC’s lowest-rated firstrun movie ever aired in primetime.

Friday

Led by the highest-rated “Unsolved Mysteries” since it switched from NBC to CBS, the Eye tied ABC in Friday’s nightlong adults 18-49 averages and nearly matched the Alphabet in homes. “Mysteries” topped CBS’ 18-49 tally in that slot on the year-ago Friday by 64%.

The return of “You Wish” brought ABC its lowest rating on record in that slot with regular firstrun programming.

The first of NBC’s Friday rerun Danielle Steel vidpics looked rusty, settling for the Peacock’s lowest 18-49 share in that slot since February’s Olympics.

Thursday

NBC managed less than a third of its previous Thursday’s average, when “Seinfeld” wrapped with historic numbers. The night’s low point came at 9:30 when “Veronica’s Closet” lost its slot in homes by 2 shares to “Diagnosis Murder.” The NBC lineup still nearly equaled the combined ABC-CBS-Fox 18-49 rating for the night (7.6 vs. a combined 7.8).

A “Rolling Stone” spec gathered no Nielsen moss and ABC ended up with what’s apparently its lowest-rated Thursday ever.

Fox’s “Essence Awards” slipped 9% vs. last year’s tally.

Wednesday

Fox dominated the night in adults 18-49 as the marriage/season-closer episode of “Beverly Hills 90210” topped the year-ago finale by 6% and scored the highest “90210” rating since Feb. 21, 1996.

Excluding the World Series, it was Fox’s top Wednesday 18-49 score since Nov. 8, 1995.

CBS prevailed in homes as its “Sonny & Me” and “CBS at 50” retromentaries combined for the Eye’s top-rated Wednesday without sports or an awards show since May 14, 1997 (“The Last Don”).

Lightning didn’t strike twice for the “Seinfeld” finale but NBC bounced back at 10 p.m. with the top season-closing “Law & Order” 18-49 rating in that drama’s eight seasons.

ABC’s Wednesday schedule, the net’s strongest, had no finishing kick, settling for the lowest-rated firstrun “Spin City” ever, the lowest “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” (lower than all but one firstrun episode of slot predecessor “Ellen”) and the lowest in-season Barbara Walters spec in at least 17 years. It was ABC’s worst-rated Wednesday on record with firstrun enter-tainment fare.

UPN closed the season with its top Wednesday numbers in 11 weeks.

Tuesday

“Frasier” topped “Home Improvement” in their last firstrun meeting before both series shift slots this fall (Daily Variety, May 21).

The 9:30 “Frasier” season finale earned that series’ top Tuesday score since premiere week and tallied the most total viewers of any telecast last week, a “Frasier” first.

The season closer of “Dawson’s Creek” swelled to WB’s third-highest rating ever. For the night, WB nearly tripled UPN in adults 18-49 (2.9 vs. 1.0).

Monday

ABC’s “Creature, Part 2” slithered into the Monday 18-49 lead, while “Murphy Brown” signed off with a households win for CBS (Daily Variety, May 20). “Love Boat” plunged to UPN’s lowest rating ever in that hour with regular firstrun programming.

“Ally McBeal” improved Fox’s timeslot this season vs. last by 31% in adults 18-49.

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 1.23 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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