Fox’s Friday sitcoms show hope

Net eyes performance of 'Captivity,' 'Personal'

The Fox sitcoms “Living in Captivity” and “Getting Personal” have shown glimmers of life with their Friday season premieres.

According to averages in the 40 markets metered by Nielsen, “Captivity” locked up a 4.2 rating, 8 share and “Personal” added a 4.5/8. Those figures kept Fox an uncompetitive fourth for the hour and do not bode particularly well for the lineup’s long-term future.

But they’re also big improvements over Sept. 4, 1998 results from a pair of rerun “Personals” (3.0/6 and 2.8/5). Compared with those woeful week-earlier numbers, “Captivity” was up 40% and “Personal” improved by 61%. “Personal” had set several lowest-ever marks for Fox in that hour since shifting to Fridays July 31.

The outlook remains still bleak for “Captivity” and “Personal,” since Friday’s gains were accomplished with firstrun fare against mostly rerun competition. Fox will be looking for steady and significant growth if these shows are to survive in their current slots.

The Friday overnights also suggest the level of initial interest in Kenneth Starr’s report on President Clinton was fairly unspectacular.

“20/20” (10.1/18) improved vs. its previous-week overnights by 13% and “Dateline NBC” (7.7/14) was up 3% vs. week-earlier 8-10 p.m. programming. CBS’ special 9-10 p.m. “48 Hours” (5.0/9) was third for its slot and down 23% from CBS’ average for the previous hour (“JAG,” 7.2/13, up 24% vs. week-earlier fare).

ABC led the night by 1 share over NBC, with Fox in fourth, 5 shares behind.

Each ratings point represents 1% of the sample being considered. Overnight ratings are a composite of the 40 markets metered by Nielsen, which account for 60% of the country’s 994,000 TV homes.

The share is also a percentage, but it’s measured against just the homes in which TV is being watched during the timeslot involved.

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