NBC scores 10-yr. high in number of top shows

Hoopcast helps Peacock grab household, 18-49 wins on 6 of 7 nights

NBC has doubled its closest adults 18-49 pursuer in June 1-7 primetime Nielsens results, with a record start for the NBA Finals helping the Peacock amass household and 18-49 wins on six of the week’s seven nights.

Counting basketball pre-game shows, NBC also claimed the week’s 13 highest-rated programs in both adults 18-49 and total viewers, something no net had accomplished in at least 10 years.

The national number for Sunday’s Tony Awards, meanwhile, dipped 13% below last year’s hot figures, as the ratings boost from Rosie O’Donnell’s involvement apparently subsides. But it was still the second-highest-rated Tonycast in five years, up 29% over the ceremony’s rating two years ago, prior to O’Donnell’s involvement.

NBC’s big basketball boost may be fading, now that the Chicago Bulls are taking control of that series vs. the Utah Jazz. Chicago’s win in Sunday’s game three, the most lopsided victory ever in the NBA Finals, slipped to merely the second-best game-three rating in NBA history, after record stats for games one and two.

The series is still averaging a stratospheric 17.0 rating, 30 share, up 13% from the 15.0/27 being averaged by the same matchup last year and 5% better than the previous record three-game average (16.2/30 with Chicago-Phoenix in 1993).

If Utah folds and loses the next two games, though, it may be tough for NBC to manage the all-time record for a completed series (1993’s 18.0/33), even with the possibility that all-time great Michael Jordan may retire after the playoffs. One additional Utah victory, however, might inject enough drama back into the proceedings to clinch the record.

Last week’s adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, a 6.4 rating, 20 share (down in rating by 3% vs. results for the same week last year); ABC, 3.2/10 (down 11%) tied with Fox, 3.2/10 (down 6%); CBS, 2.7/8 (down 13%); WB, 1.3/4 (up 18%); UPN, 1.0/3 (down 38%). It’s the first time a winning net has doubled the second-place average since Super Bowl week.

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were: HBO, 1.3/4 (down 7%); ESPN, 0.9/2 (down 31%); USA, 0.9/3 (up 50%); TBS, 0.8/3 (up 33%); TNT, 0.7/2 (down 30%); Nickelodeon, 0.7/2 (up 75%).

Monday

NBC has taken June 8 with the highest-rated Monday “Dateline” (13.0/23) since Jan. 5. “20/20” (10.3/17) led ABC to second for the night.

CBS’ four consecutive episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond” (7.4/14, 7.6/13, 7.4/12 and 7.4/12) nearly matched NBC’s rival sitcoms in adults 18-49 and gave CBS its second-best Monday 8-10 p.m. 18-49 share with all comedies since March 9.

Fox’s “Ally McBeal” reruns (5.2/9) are starting to wear thin. On Monday of this week, the rookie hit slipped to fourth its hour in adults 18-49.

WB’s “Invasion America” (2.6/4) couldn’t match any recent “7th Heaven” rerun in that Monday 9-10 p.m. hour but did beat the last nine WB telecasts of anything else in that slot.

Sunday

NBC dominated with Bulls-Jazz basketball, but the night was marred by what could be the worst example of audience flow in network history, from near-record basketball numbers to what’s apparently the lowest Sunday 10-11 p.m. rating in NBC history.

The Peacock’s post-game “American Film Institute Salute to Robert Wise” earned less than one-fourth the rating of its lead-in and dropped from the hoop-cast’s 41 share among men 18-34 to a mere 7. Even among women 50-and-older, the falloff was 13 shares, from an 18 to a 5.

The Robert Wise salute was the lowest-rated of the AFI series to date, down 23% from last year’s Martin Scorsese tribute on CBS (4.8/8) and down 62% from the Clint Eastwood fete two years ago on ABC (9.8/17). For the four years before that, the AFI specs averaged a 7.5/13.

CBS’ Tony Awards have clearly been reinvigorated by O’Donnell’s involvement, but with this year’s fade, they continue to run below such kudocast fare as the Soap Opera Awards (9.7/17) and the Billboard Music Awards (8.6/13).

Surprisingly, the Tonys improved vs. last year by 14% in men 18-34 despite Sunday’s hoops competition (though last year’s Tonycast faced a closer Bulls-Jazz game).

ABC’s “Fighting for my Daughter” was the week’s top-rated film in adults 18-49.

WB was hit hard by basketball competition, with “Sister, Sister” getting dunked to the lowest rating ever in its five seasons and “Kelly Kelly” hitting the worst WB firstrun regular-fare rating in its slot since Feb. 18, 1996.

Saturday

“ABC News Saturday Night” surged to its highest rating to date, winning its hour in adults 18-49 for the first time. NBC’s competition, “Profiler,” wilted to its worst Saturday rating ever.

For the night, Fox led second-place NBC in adults 18-49 and 25-54, while CBS prevailed in homes.

Friday

Bulls-Jazz hoops snared the highest game-two rating in the history of the NBA playoffs, topping the previous record 16.1/29 set by the Chicago-L.A. matchup of 1991 (Daily Variety, June 9). Basketball-boosted NBC beat the combined ABC-CBS-Fox 18-49 rating for the night and scored NBC’s best Friday homes rating in 51 weeks.

The start of CBS’ swan-song summer runs for “Family Matters” and “Step by Step” failed to impress, though both sitcoms ran within 1 share of second for their slots in adults 18-49 and 25-54, as ABC’s TGIF lineup continues to crumble. “You Wish” hit the lowest firstrun regular-programming rating ever in that slot for ABC.

Thursday

NBC’s ratings actually took a dip Thursday, compared with Wednesday and Friday NBA results.

NBC still breezed, as “Just Shoot Me” took residence in the 9:30 half-hour with a 98% retention of the slot’s 18-49 lead-in from “Seinfeld.” It was NBC’s best retention in that half-hour since Aug. 22, 1996 (“3rd Rock”). “Veronica’s Closet” had averaged an 84% retention in the slot since the May sweeps.

“Veronica” did better after a switch to 8:30, where it retained 93% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Friends” (though “Shoot” had averaged a 5% build there since the May sweeps). Female-skewing “Veronica’s” lost the slot in all key male demos to Fox’s “Police Videos.”

ABC’s ALMA Awards went home empty-handed, with the lowest rating for a kudocast on the Big Four since the Dec. 28, 1996 Bravo Awards on Fox.

CBS’ second “People of the Century” spec topped results from the first (aired Monday April 6) by nearly 50%.

Wednesday

NBC rejected all competition with the top-rated game-one telecast in NBA finals history (Daily Variety, June 5). In fact, it was an NBA record for any telecast earlier than game four of a playoff series.

Judith Light’s summer fill-in for CBS, “The Simple Life,” got off to a promising start, up 4% on its 25-54 lead-in from “The Nanny.”

After two weeks, Fox’s summer-season Wednesday fare has scored a 61% increase over year-ago results in adults 18-49.

Tuesday

The first “NewsRadio” broadcast after Phil Hartman’s death brought that sitcom’s top rating since March 3, though “NewsRadio” was also the only NBC Tuesday show to lose its slot in homes.

ABC’s “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” is looking staler with each airing, last week losing 20% of its 18-49 lead-in while hot slot rival “Just Shoot Me” added 13% to its lead-in.

CBS beat ABC on a Tuesday with regular programming for the first time since last July.

Monday

Despite a fourth-place 18-49 finish for NBC’s sitcom block, “Dateline” kept the Peacock ahead in June 1 results (Daily Variety, June 3).

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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