Going for the gold

NBC's 50th Emmycast gets boost but not best

NBC’s telecast of the 50th annual Emmy Awards beat the overnight ratings of two of the last three Emmycasts but came in behind ABC’s 1994 and ’96 figures, which translated into the two highest national Emmy ratings since 1986.

Sunday’s 7-11 p.m. coverage walked off with a composite 16.0 rating, 25 share in the 40 markets metered by Nielsen, From 8-11 p.m., the average was a 17.4/27. Both figures top last year’s 8-11:30 p.m. CBS telecast (15.4/23 in overnights), but trail ABC’s 1996 8-11:30 overnights (17.9/27). ABC’s 1994 8-11:30 average was a 17.0/26, and in 1995, Fox’s 8-11:30 telecast managed a 15.6/24.

Declines predicted

This year’s national rating is due from Nielsen today. For the Emmys, the national figure almost always declines significantly from the overnights, last year on CBS by 12% and two years ago on ABC by 20%. NBC’s decline is likely to be closer to ABC’s than CBS’, given NBC’s and ABC’s similar skews toward larger markets.

A 20% falloff from this year’s overnights would translate to a national 12.8 rating, well below CBS’ year-ago 13.5, which was the lowest Big Three Emmy rating ever. From 8-11 p.m., a 12% falloff from this year’s overnights would translate to a more competitive 13.9 national rating.

This year, CBS counterprogrammed the Emmys most aggressively but apparently with marginal impact. The Eye’s 8-11 p.m. broadcast premiere of ”Goodfellas” averaged a 9.9/15 in the overnights, 12 shares behind the Emmys and merely equal to the share of CBS’ week-earlier Sunday pic (”It Could Happen to You” in rerun, 8.3/15), but still easily second in its slot.

Last year, CBS was the victim of unusually aggressive Emmy counterprogramming when Fox ran ”True Lies” on Emmy night and winged to a 10.2/16 nationally, the highest Fox non-sports Sunday rating from May through October 1997. That helped drop CBS’ Emmys to the lowest Big Three rating ever.

One victim of this year’s Emmys was Fox’s previously promising ”That ’70s Show,’ ” which slipped to a 5.0/8 in the overnights, down an alarming 29% from its ”Simpsons” lead-in (7.0/11). The results suggest the fast start for ”That ’70s” was mostly attributable to weak rerun competition.

WB fall shows

Sunday also featured the premiere of the WB’s fall lineup, which averaged a 3.3/5 in overnights. That’s up 10% from last year’s 3.0/5 on Emmy night, but down 18% from last year’s week-earlier Sunday premieres (against weaker competition and with heavier promotion).

WB’s 9:30 rookie ”The Army Show” debuted with a 3.1/5, down 18% vs. its lead-in from ”Unhappily Ever After” (3.8/5).

NBC Research estimates 50 million viewers watched at least part of this year’s Emmy coverage. With continual population increases in the U.S. boosting such total viewers numbers, that’s the highest Emmy score by that measure since 1986.

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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