NBC wins week by two shares despite average 'Seinfeld' performance

“Seinfeld” isn’t gone yet and NBC is still No. 1.

After weeks of speculation about where NBC will find itself next season when “Seinfeld” leaves the schedule, the Peacock demonstrated in Jan. 5-11 primetime Nielsens that, for now, “Seinfeld” is still around and NBC is still well ahead of the pack.

NBC won the week by two shares in homes and four shares in adults 18-49, despite a merely average performance by the first original “Seinfeld” since the announcement that the sitcom will end after this season.

Meanwhile, the week’s “second-season” schedule changes did little to alter the primetime status quo.

CBS got a sizzling start from “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” but that brought just a minor boost to the rest of the Eye’s lethargic Friday schedule. On Saturday, the second try for CBS’ hot-starting “Magnificent Seven” was cooled by skating competition, and Monday’s tiring lineup has failed to earn any momentum with its latest revamp.

ABC has done better than expected so far with a new Monday team, and Fox’s Thursday tinkering has brought that schedule a step toward competitiveness.

Last week’s adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, a 7.3 rating, 19 share (down in rating by 5% vs. results for the same week last year); Fox, 6.1/15 (up 5%); ABC, 5.6/14 (even); CBS, 3.9/10 (down 19%); WB, 1.5/4 (up 7%); UPN, 1.3/3 (down 35%). NBC’s season-to-date 25% advantage over second-placer ABC is the biggest 18-49 lead at this point of the season for any net in 11 years.

Paced by Monday’s record “Ally McBeal” and Sunday football, Fox won the week in adults 18-34, an important demo that draws premium rates from advertisers.

Monday

Despite a rerun “Ally McBeal” (6.8 rating, 10 share), Fox won its 8-10 p.m. block in adults 18-49 on Monday, Jan. 12, with “Melrose Place” (7.8/12) winning its hour by three shares in that demo. “Dateline” (11.5/20) boosted NBC to the top in 8-11 p.m. averages.

ABC took the night in homes with continued solid performances from “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (8.8/13, down 7% from its first Monday try last week), “20/20″ (11.3/17, down 3%) and “The Practice” (8.7/15, up 4%).

NBC’s failing 8:30 and 9:30 sitcoms “Jenny” (6.4/10) and “Fired Up” (6.5/10) retained just 72% and 68% of their respective 18-49 lead-ins. “Jenny,” which was pulled from the lineup Tuesday, drew NBC’s lowest regular-sked firstrun rating on record for that half-hour.

CBS fell 41% behind its year-ago Monday adults 25-54 average, as “George & Leo” (8.7/13 in homes) and “Style & Substance” (7.8/12) stayed fourth in that demo. “Brooklyn South” (6.0/10) dropped to what’s apparently the lowest original, regular-sked rating ever for CBS that hour.

The star of CBS’ Monday lineup is “Everybody Loves Raymond” (10.2/15), which built by a best-yet 32% on its 18-49 lead-in from “Cosby” (9.9/15 in homes).

WB got a series-record 4.1/6 from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Sunday

With a big football lead-in, Fox topped the Sunday stat sheet in all key adult and male demographics and total viewers. That net’s 10-minute Green Bay-San Francisco overrun earned a 23.2/39, actually down 11% from the 26.0/40 from last year’s New England-Jacksonville AFC championship overrun on NBC.

The football surge was still enough to boost “The Simpsons” to its highest rating since Oct. 25, 1995, and “King of the Hill” to its second-highest rating ever.

CBS edged Fox in homes for the night, despite the second-lowest-rated “People’s Choice Awards” to date. That kudocast was down by 9% vs. year-ago results, though up by 11% from two years ago.

NBC ran second for the night in adults 18-49, as “The Fugitive” tied “Jurassic Park” for the season’s second-highest 18-49 theatrical-pic rating (behind “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”).

Saturday

With Olympic berths on the line, Saturday’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships scored their second-highest final-night rating this decade, behind only 1994’s Tonya-Nancy-boosted peak, and up 90% vs. last year’s 18-49 marks.

Skating iced CBS’ hot-starting “Magnificent Seven,” which tumbled 27% below its previous-week premiere. Against much-tougher-than-usual competition, “Seven” slipped 5% behind the season average in that slot for “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

That “Seven” slide led to the lowest firstrun ratings ever for both “Early Edition” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.” CBS finished fourth for the night in adults 25-54.

Friday

CBS got a rousing start from the first series installment of “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” but the rest of the lineup failed to capitalize as “The Gregory Hines Show” dropped 35% of its 25-54 lead-in from “Darndest” and “Family Matters” fumbled away another 9%.

ABC remained first for the night, though “Teen Angel” has yet to earn its wings. Last week, “Angel” held just 77% of its 18-49 lead-in, dragging ABC from first to third that half-hour.

“Darndest” tied ABC’s “Sabrina” in adults 18-49, but otherwise the demo race between rival family-appeal lineups went decidedly to ABC.

The Alphabet topped CBS 8-10 p.m. in adults 18-49 with a 13 share vs. the Eye’s 9, in teens by 33 to 9 and in kids by 29 to 8.

“Darndest” earned CBS’ highest regular-series rating in that slot since Feb. 17, 1995, (“Diagnosis Murder”) and improved on the slot’s 25-54 season average by 86%.

Thursday

“Seinfeld’s” initial firstrun episode since the announcement of its impending wrap didn’t generate much of a ratings surge, as the Castle Rock comedy equaled its lowest firstrun share of the season.

“Union Square” and “Veronica’s Closet” didn’t enhance their chances of staying on the Thursday sked post- “Seinfeld,” retaining 78% and 79% of their 18-49 lead-ins, respectively, third- and second-worst performances to date.

Fox’s Thursday newcomers registered mixed numbers. “Ask Harriet” dragged 13% behind its “Simpsons” 18-49 lead-in but improved by 16% in homes vs. regular programming there this season.

“New York Undercover” rejoined the Thursday sked by topping the 18-49 season average of slot predecessor “413 Hope Street” by 27%. Still, “Undercover” trailed its year-ago 18-49 rating in that same slot by 16%.

ABC’s skating prelims slipped 27% behind a comparable one-hour Thursday telecast four years ago. At 10 p.m., CBS’ “48 Hours” reported season-high numbers.

Wednesday

Rookie hit “Dharma & Greg” led ABC, improving by 34% on its 18-49 lead-in, the second-best build so far for “Dharma.” “The Drew Carey Show” contributed its second-best 18-49 rating this season.

NBC’s “Working” looked like a rising star at 9:30, building by 14% on its 18-49 lead-in, but seemed more like it was ready for the unemployment line at 8:30, losing 23% of that slot’s 18-49 lead-in.

Tuesday

“Frasier” topped “Home Improvement,” helping NBC win in homes, while ABC slipped ahead in adults 18-49 (Daily Vari-ety, Jan. 9).

“Mrs. Doubtfire” topped Fox’s Tuesday-pic 18-49 season average by 34%.

Monday

The blossoming “Ally McBeal” led Fox to an 8-10 p.m. 18-49 victory Jan. 5, while NBC led 8-11 p.m. results with the third-highest-rated “Dateline” ever (Daily Variety, Jan. 9). It was NBC’s highest Monday 18-49 rating since May 19. From 8-10 p.m., UPN ran second behind only ABC in kids 2-11.

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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