'Seinfeld' exit drops Peacock back to net pack

Feeling the early effects of “Seinfeld’s” upcoming fall departure, NBC has faded out of first place in primetime Nielsen household results for just the second time in 12 weeks. The Peacock slipped to second behind CBS in June 22-28 averages with NBC’s lowest weeklong rating ever.

In the adults 18-49 demographic, a key indicator as to which net is winning the ad-revenue race, NBC finished first, a position it’s monopolized for the three months since Oscar week. Fox was carried to second in those 18-49 standings by Wednesday’s “Killer Ants” vidpic.

CBS was fourth for the week in that 18-49 demo but first in households despite the lowest rating ever to win a week. The Eye was paced by an extra “48 Hours” that dumped NBC’s “Dateline” to its lowest Monday rating ever.

NBC’s vulnerability is increasing this summer as its Thursday locomotive starts to run out of “Seinfeld” steam. The retiring sitcom, which has been rerun by NBC 32 times over the last seven months, slowed noticeably last week to its third-lowest Thurs-day rating and lowest ever on a night not affected by the July 4 holiday.

“Seinfeld” is down 20% in homes since the May sweep. Before the huge boost of its firstrun finale, “Seinfeld” was running just 1% behind year-ago results during the regular season, but viewership has quickly declined since the massive surge of that wrap-up episode.

In part because of “Seinfeld’s” fade, NBC’s other Thursday heavyweights are also tiring over the summer. “ER” is off by 10% since the May sweep (after losing just 2% during the season) and “Friends” has fallen 14% (also down 2% during the season).

Last week, that Thursday softness combined with an off-week for “Dateline NBC” (all-time Monday and Friday lows) to drag NBC back toward the primetime pack.

In adults 18-49, last week’s averages were: NBC, a 3.8 rating, 13 share (down 12% in rating vs. results for the same week last year); Fox, 3.3/12 (up 14%); ABC, 3.1/11 (down 6%); CBS, 2.5/9 (down 14%); WB, 1.2/4 (even); UPN, 1.0/3 (down 29%).

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were: HBO, 1.1/4 (up 10%); USA, 1.0/3 (up 25%); TBS, 0.7/3 (up 17%); ESPN, 0.6/2 (up 50%); TNT, 0.6/2 (down 14%).

Monday

On June 29, “48 Hours” competition again impacted “Dateline NBC” (8.5 rating, 15 share), sending the Peacock newsmag to its second-lowest Monday rating ever and clearing the way for another Monday ABC victory.

CBS settled for the lowest-yet regular-slot “Cosby” rating (6.5/13) and weakest-ever “Cybill” score (4.7/8).

UPN’s “Love Boat” (1.7/3) drifted 29% below year-ago slot results, for its lowest rating to date.

Sunday

Fox breezed in adults 18-49, winning the night by 3 shares over NBC. CBS led in homes, though “Touched by an Angel” fluttered to its lowest regular-slot rating since Super Bowl Sunday 1997.

NBC’s Sunday series tryouts remain unimpressive, running 19% behind the net’s year-ago 18-49 average with a Sunday movie.

ABC’s “Disney” movie is sputtering over the summer, barely keeping ahead of the Alphabet’s abysmal year-ago adults 18-49 results in the slot.

Spanish-language broadcast net Univision did a 19.5/50 in the country’s roughly 7.7 million Hispanic households with Monday morning’s Germany-Mexico World Cup soccer match.

Saturday

CBS’ wheezing lineup again demonstrated why the much-criticized cancellation of “Dr. Quinn” is probably a necessity, as the Eye fell out of the households lead and landed fourth in adults 25-54, CBS’ target demo. Fox led the night by 3 shares in adults 18-49.

Friday

ABC got stuck with a second run of Disney’s “Mulan” promo spec, and the Alphabet slipped to its lowest 18-49 rating that hour since last July 4. Thus, NBC finished a competitive second to ABC despite the Peacock’s weakest Friday rating since July 4, 1997. “Dateline” dropped to that newsmag’s lowest rating on any night of the week since Sunday, Aug. 25, 1996.

Thursday

The NBC lineup stayed well ahead of the night’s competition as “Suddenly Susan” started a summer Thursday run by virtually duplicating average “Veronica’s Closet” retention levels in the 8:30-9 p.m. half-hour.

But “Seinfeld” is fading away in its final summer of reruns, last week slipping 35% below its 18-49 rating on the comparable year-ago Thursday. “Seinfeld’s” only lower Thursday homes ratings have come on July 3 and July 4 telecasts, impacted by holiday distractions.

“Prey” equaled what’s apparently ABC’s lowest rating ever in that timeslot.

Wednesday

Fox’s “Legion of Fire” antpic stung the competition, winning the 8-10 p.m. block in homes. ABC led 8-10 p.m. in adults 18-49 and 8-11 p.m. in homes and key demos. In total viewers, Fox won a Wednesday for the first time since last summer.

NBC’s special Wednesday “Homicide” showed modest promise, nearly equaling the previous-week rating of slot regular “Law & Order.”

Tuesday

NBC beat ABC’s fading Tuesday team by 4 shares in both homes and adults 18-49. CBS’ “Million Dollar Babies” scored the lowest network multiple-parter rating since ABC’s “Family Pictures,” July 6-7, 1997.

The night included lowest-yet ratings for UPN’s “Moesha” and “Good News” and WB’s “Invasion America.”

Monday

With newsmag competition from “48 Hours” blunting “Dateline,” ABC took Monday, June 22 (Daily Variety, June 24). “48 Hours” reported CBS’ best regular-programming rating that hour since Nov. 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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