Mundane Monday

CBS preems fare best as NFL carries ABC

The 1998-99 primetime Nielsen season is under way with promising starts for CBS’ “King of Queens” and “L.A. Doctors” and NBC’s “Will & Grace,” but NBC’s “Conrad Bloom,” CBS’ “Brian Benben” and the WB’s “Hyperion Bay” are looking like early candidates for cancellation or timeslot shifts.

NBC was the night’s biggest loser, down 14% vs. its year-ago adults 18-49 average, while CBS, though down itself by 6% from last year, probably got the night’s best news with strong starts from two rookies and a breakthrough performance from its Monday anchor, “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

NBC’s biggest falloff came at 9 p.m. vs. “Raymond,” as “Caroline in the City” (8.1 rating, 12 share in homes and 5.8/14 in adults 18-49) plunged 33% below its year-ago cliffhanger-boosted premiere 18-49 numbers. “Raymond” (10.3/15 in homes, 5.1/12 in adults 18-49), meanwhile, improved on the slot’s year-earlier “Cybill” 18-49 rating by 34% with the second-best “Raymond” rating ever in that demo.

ABC gridcast scores

ABC won the night with a Dallas-N.Y. Giants gridcast (13.1/21 in homes and 7.7/20 in adults 18-49). That’s down 19% in adults 18-49 from the year-ago Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game, and it’s the lowest-rated “Monday Night Football” telecast featuring Dallas in at least 17 years and probably ever.

ABC is still slightly ahead for the night, with the earlier “MNF” start time so far this grid season generating an average 117% 18-49 improvement in the 8-9 p.m. hour.

Fox was up a stirring 20% vs. the same night last year, thanks to sophomore sensation “Ally McBeal” (9.3/14 in homes, up 43%, and 7.2/17 in adults 18-49, up 57%). “Melrose Place” (6.4/10, down 18% in homes, and 5.0/13, down 12% in adults 18-49) is lagging.

‘King’ is crowned

The good news for CBS started at 8:30, as rookie “King of Queens” (9.8/15 in homes and 5.0/13 in adults 18-49) built on its 18-49 lead-in by an impressive 35%, while NBC’s flopping slot rival “Conrad Bloom” (7.0/11 and 4.7/12) was losing 19% of its 18-49 lead-in.

Roles were reversed at 9:30, when NBC’s “Will & Grace” (8.6/12 in homes, 5.9/13 in adults 18-49) built by 2% on its 18-49 lead-in while CBS’ misfiring “Brian Benben Show” (7.4/11 in homes, 3.8/9 in adults 18-49) was fumbling 25% of its 18-49 leadin.

The Eye’s 10 p.m. rookie “L.A. Docs” (9.9/16 in homes and 4.8/13 in adults 18-49) also showed promise, sewing up CBS’ best 18-49 rating in that slot (excluding sports) since last September. Compared with the year-ago premiere of the much-hyped “Brooklyn South,” though, “Docs” was down 30% in adults 18-49.

Scandal fatigue

The 10-11 p.m. numbers suggest viewers are wearying of the Lewinsky affair, as “Dateline NBC” (9.2/15 in homes and 5.5/15 in adults 18-49) slipped 5% vs. its year-ago 18-49 rating, despite Monday’s release of President Clinton’s videotaped grand-jury testimony.

For the night, ABC led with a 12.9/20 in homes (up 9%) and 7.4/19 in adults 18-49 (up 1%). Fox was second in the 18-49 demo with a 6.1/15 (up 20%), followed by NBC, 5.5/14 (down 14%); CBS, 4.5/11 (down 6%); the WB, 1.9/5 (up 12%); and UPN, 0.9/2 (in rerun, down 44%).

In homes, CBS ran second with a 9.4/14 (down 7%), followed by NBC, 8.5/13 (down 20%); Fox, 7.9/12 (up 10%); WB, 3.6/5 (up 6%); UPN, 1.6/2 (in re-run, down 41%). It was CBS’ top-rated non-sports Monday since last Nov. 3.

On the netlets, “7th Heaven” (4.4/7, up 26% in homes, 2.2/6 up 47% in adults 18-49) continues to pick up momentum for the WB, while the 9-10 p.m. rookie “Hyperion Bay” (2.8/4 in homes, 1.5/3 in adults 18-49) isn’t looking like a compatible schedule mate. “7th” scored its fourth-highest rating ever and the highest Monday premiere rating in WB history. Its female teen average was an impressive 8.0/28.

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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