Summer eye-popper

ABC's 'Bob,' 'Line' make boffo bows

NBC has taken its 19th straight primetime Nielsens week in the key demographic of adults 18-49, but CBS stayed first in the traditional measure of households thanks to the Tom Hanks film “Philadelphia,” which gave the Eye its sixth households win in seven weeks (including two ties).

NBC’s 19-week 18-49 winning streak is the longest for any net since a record 40-week streak by NBC back in 1996.

ABC and Fox, meanwhile, took the biggest chances last week with several firstrun projects and some early timeslot shifts in advance of next month’s fall premieres. Results were sometimes excellent (ABC’s “Maximum Bob” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway” and Fox’s “Guinness World Records”), sometimes disappointing (“Fox Files” and Fox’s shift of “Getting Personal” to Fridays) and sometimes in-between (ABC’s switch of “The Practice” to Sundays, Fox’s summer return of “Melrose Place”).

The successes did not outweigh the disappointments and ABC stayed third in households last week while Fox finished fourth.

Aug. 3-9 adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, 3.9/13 (down 9% in rating vs. results for the same week last year); ABC, 3.3/11 (down 8%); Fox, 3.2/11 (down 16%); CBS, 2.9/9 (even); WB, 1.3/4 (up 18%); UPN, 0.9/3 (down 44%).

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were: HBO, 1.4/5 (up 8%); USA, 1.0/3 (up 11%); TBS, 0.8/3 (up 14%); TNT, 0.8/3 (down 33%); Lifetime, 0.5/2 (down 17%); Nickelodeon, 0.5/2 (up 25%).


A firstrun episode of “Melrose Place” (5.8 rating, 10 share in homes, 4.4/14 in adults 18-49) kept Fox first in the 18-49 demo Aug. 10 with a 29% improvement in adults 18-49 over year-ago rerun slot programming.

NBC won the night in households with the 150-minute broadcast premiere of “Boys on the Side” (7.0/12), though the Peacock failed to lead a single half-hour through the night.


All things considered, CBS was glad to be in “Philadelphia” Sunday night. The Tom Hanks pic earned the Eye’s strongest Sunday-movie 18-49 rating since May 3, carrying CBS to an easy nightlong win in the demo.

ABC got a slow start from its risky switch of “The Practice” to the traditional Sunday film slot. The night’s pair of “Practice” episodes filed the Alphabet’s second-worst 18-49 rating in that 9-11 p.m. time period since Super Bowl Sunday, but on the plus side, the second of two “Practice” hours (this one airing in the series’ planned fall slot) built by a sterling 38% on the 18-49 rating of the first.

HBO’s “Jerry Seinfeld: I’m Telling You for the Last Time — Live on Broadway” scored the week’s top cable rating, a 4.1. “Dateline NBC” went head-to-head with “60 Minutes” and got knocked to its lowest Sunday rating since August 1996. “Dateline” trailed “60” by 3 shares from 7-8 p.m. among adults 18-49.


Local-market preseason football telecasts ravaged net clearance levels and left Fox first despite the lowest-rated pair of “Cops” in 53 weeks and the lowest-rated “America’s Most Wanted” since Sept. 13.


Fox’s Friday looks finished more than a month before the fall season begins. Last week, a firstrun “Getting Personal” hit the lowest Fox rating ever in “Personal’s” intended fall slot, and for a second week in a row, “Personal’s” woes led to the lowest-rated “Millennium” ever.

NBC won the night in adults 18-49 as “Dateline” upset a Friday “20/20” in that key demo for the first time ever. CBS won Friday in households for a third-straight week (including a tie) for the first time in 10 years.


Disappointing “Fox Files” equaled its lowest 18-49 rating to date and Thursday leader NBC more than doubled second-placer Fox in that demo.

ABC’s “Push” returned for more record-low marks, this time hitting what’s apparently the net’s lowest Thursday 8-9 p.m. rating ever, duplicating “Push’s” feat in its previous Monday 8-9 p.m. slot last April.


ABC crunched the Wednesday competition by 5 shares in adults 18-49 as the summer fill-in “Whose Line Is It Anyway” premiered with a sterling 100% retention of its 18-49 lead-in from “Drew Carey” (Daily Variety, Aug. 7). The improv gameshow topped the previous night’s “Maximum Bob” for the Alphabet’s best summer-premiere 18-49 numbers since July 1991’s “Hi, Honey, I’m Home.”

CBS’ “Countryfest” declined by 18% vs. its year-ago rating and “Blankman” fell to Fox’s lowest Wednesday rating since Aug. 7, 1996 (and lowest-ever with firstrun fare).


ABC improved its adults 18-49 performance over the previous Tuesday by 45% as “Maximum Bob” joined the schedule with a 35% slot improvement over summer reruns of “NYPD Blue” (Daily Variety, Aug. 6).

Fox took the night in adults 18-49, though, as “Guinness World Records” continues to more than double the net’s 18-49 average in that slot this summer. Tuesday newcomer “King of the Hill” is also up 33% over the slot’s summer average. The 8-8:30 “King” settled for third in the 18-49 demo behind “Home Improvement” and “Mad About You.”

CBS’ “Buffalo Girls” equaled the best households rating among the nine rerun multiple-parters aired this summer on the nets.


Fox led in adults 18-49 Aug. 3 with “Melrose Place” in firstrun, while “Dateline” kept NBC first in homes (Daily Variety, Aug. 5).

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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