Peacock struts with news, weather

'Dateline' earns record rating

Three slot-winning “Datelines” and the film “Under Siege 2” have overrun the Aug. 24-30 primetime Nielsen competition and given NBC its easiest ratings victory in 10 weeks.

“Dateline” returned as a Wednesday regular and soared to NBC’s best 18-49 rating in that slot since March, thanks to a ratings gust from Hurricane Bonnie. Monday and Friday “Datelines” were also winners, and Sunday’s edition managed its top rating since May.

Capping NBC’s comeback week, “Under Siege 2” stormed to the Peacock’s highest Sunday-pic Nielsens since May 10.

Fox was a competitive second for the week in adults 18-49, due largely to its aggressive summer firstrun strategy — the second episode of the early premiering “That ’70s Show” again improved on its “Simpsons” lead-in, and Tuesday’s summer series “Guinness World Records” achieved its second-best 18-49 numbers to date.

Network averages in that 18-49 demo last week were: NBC, a 4.3 rating, 13 share (down in rating by 9% vs. results for the same week last year); Fox, 3.7/12 (up 28%); ABC, 3.6/11 (up 3%); CBS, 2.9/9 (down 6%); WB, 1.3/4 (up 18%); UPN, 0.9/3 (down 50%). ABC beat its results for the comparable year-ago week for only the second time since March.


NBC’s two-hour “Diana” documentary (11.2 rating, 18 share) ruled Aug. 31 results, lifting the Peacock to a 5-share win over ABC in homes and a 4-share win over Fox in adults 18-49. It was NBC’s highest Monday 18-49 average (5.6/16) since May 18.

ABC’s Florida State-Texas A&M gridcast (6.9/12) dropped 26% below the 18-49 rating of last week’s New England-Dallas pre-season pro-football game. “Melrose Place” (6.3/10) built in its rating for a fourth-straight week.


NBC overran the Sunday 18-49 competition with “Under Siege 2,” which topped its firstrun rating from last February against the Olympics. It’s the second time in three Sundays NBC has rallied by beating the firstrun rating of a pic that was largely overlooked during February’s Olympic weeks (the other film being Aug. 16’s “Tommy Boy”).

Fox had the highest 7-10 p.m. 18-49 average, as “That ’70s Show” stayed in a groove, building by 9% on its 18-49 lead-in from a rerun “Simpsons” (Daily Variety, Sept. 1). The slow-starting “Holding the Baby” crawled to a 12% gain over its 18-49 lead-in.

CBS won the night in homes, as part one of “Children of the Dust” scored the second-highest first-episode rating among the 12 rerun multiple-parters aired on the nets this summer. “60 Minutes” and “Touched by an Angel” contributed their best numbers since May. Newsmag “60” was the week’s top-rated regular-sked program in households for the ninth time in 10 weeks.

A rerun John Stossel news spec on sex stirred up ABC’s hottest Sunday 9-10 p.m. rating since June 7, but “The Practice” held just 73% of that lead-in. The WB successfully switched from comedy to drama in the 7-8 p.m. hour, as a “7th Heaven” rerun earned the netlet’s second-best 18-49 rating that hour in seven weeks.


Fox dominated with its highest Saturday 18-49 average since May 9.


NBC got burned by a primetime “Sunset Beach,” apparently the net’s lowest-rated telecast ever in that slot and possibly its second-lowest-ever in primetime (discounting political broadcasts and programs preempted in some time zones).

One of the few NBC telecasts to rival “Sunset’s” low numbers was the July 28, 1991, pilot “Lookwell” (2.3/5). The Peacock was also plucked at 10 p.m., where a special “Law & Order” equaled the lowest rating in that series’ history.

Fading ABC edged upstart CBS for the nightlong win in homes and adults 18-49.


“Frasier” arrived on Thursdays looking like less than a savior for a lineup about to lose “Seinfeld.” The 9:30 “Frasier” retained 90% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Seinfeld,” while slot predecessor “Just Shoot Me” (sent back to Tuesdays where it’ll replace “Frasier” this fall) did better in 10 of 11 recent tries there, averaging a 1% improvement on its 18-49 lead-in. “Frasier” fared better at 8:30, with NBC’s best retention in that slot in four weeks.

Football scored CBS’ best Thursday men numbers since March 19 (NCAA hoops). That competition threw “Fox Files” for a loss, with the fledgling newsmag tying Fox’s worst rating that hour since last December and dropping the net to fourth for the night in adults 18-49.

ABC’s reality fare soared into second place in the 18-49 demo with the Alphabet’s strongest Thursday average since Jan. 8.


Hurricane Bonnie lifted the new Wednesday “Dateline” 52% above NBC’s 18-49 average for that hour this summer (Daily Variety, Aug. 28). Among the competitors washed away by the “Dateline” surge was “The Nanny,” which sank to its second-lowest rating ever.

ABC remained in control of the night, winning by 4 shares in adults 18-49, thanks to another resourceful rating from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and the top-rated “PrimeTime Live” since May 13. Hurricane Bonnie whipped up big numbers for all the night’s newsmags, with CBS’ “Public Eye” equaling its best rating since March.

“Stressed Eric” again stumbled to what’s apparently the lowest regular-sked rating in that slot in NBC history. UPN got its scrawniest Wednesday 8-9 p.m. rating ever from “Arnold’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Bodybuilding Championships.”


Fox outran the Tuesday hounds in the adults 18-49 demo with the second-highest “Guinness World Records” to date.

CBS moved ahead in homes as “Nothing Lasts Forever” earned the top rerun multiple-parter rating on the nets since July 1997’s “In the Best of Families.” At 8 p.m., “JAG” cruised to its strongest rating of the summer, finishing just 2 shares out of the slot lead in adults 18-49.

“Just Shoot Me” looked strong as it returned to Tuesdays (where it’ll anchor the NBC lineup this fall), beating its lead-in numbers from “Frasier.”

“Maximum Bob” settled for ABC’s lowest-ever firstrun regular-fare rating in that slot.


ABC led Aug. 24 results with the best 18-49 preseason football rating on any net in three years. Fox led 8-10 p.m. among adults 18-49 (Daily Variety, Aug. 26).

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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