NBC’s primetime fortunes are starting to look a little spooky after a Halloween weekend in which Peacock rookies “Freaks and Geeks” and “Cold Feet” performed like a couple of Nielsen cadavers. And those weekend horrors followed a chilling Thursday in which NBC’s usually fearless lineup scared up record-low ratings.
Last week’s all-repeat lineup, quickly pressed into service when the New York Yankees finished off the World Series in four games, slid to NBC’s lowest in-season regular-sked Thursday homes rating ever, excluding holiday nights.
The Peacock must hope these most recent Nielsens are not a sign of things to come, but rather an anomaly reflecting the disruption of baseball coverage and Halloween distractions for its target young-adult audience.
“Freaks and Geeks” performed passably with a special Friday rerun seg, scoring a 3.2 rating, 10 share in adults 18-49, according to preliminary Nielsens. That reps an OK 78% of the previous hour’s 4.1/16 from “Providence.” But the special “Freaks” didn’t help 10 p.m.’s “Cold Feet” (a prelim 3.6/7 in homes, 2.3/7 in adults 18-49), which shivered to NBC’s lowest-ever homes rating that hour with firstrun fare.
“Freaks” was further shunned in its regular Saturday slot, where the high- school drama moped to a prelim 3.5/7 in homes and a 2.1/7 in adults 18-49, both fourth in the slot and both about as bad as year-earlier results from the fall 1998 wipeout “Wind on Water.”
“Freaks’ ” poor grades are dropping NBC’s Saturday average, leaving the Peacock fourth on a night it once led demographically.
Meanwhile, NBC’s Thursday schedule, still unchallenged on that night when in firstrun, is looking surprising vulnerable in rerun.
The once-invincible lineup beat CBS by a thin 0.1-rating point margin in homes (10.1/16 vs. 10.0/16), the Eye’s closest in-season finish behind NBC on a non-holiday regular-sked Thursday since March 7, 1985, in the days of “Magnum, P.I.” and “Simon & Simon.” NBC still ruled the night in adults 18-49, beating second-place ABC by 7 shares (6.6/19 vs. 4.1/12).
Half the battle
CBS ran ahead of NBC in households for three of the night’s six half-hours, as “Diagnosis Murder” (10.2/17 in homes, 2.6/8 in adults 18-49) out-sleuthed “Jesse” (8.7/14 in homes, 6.0/17 in adults 18-49), “Chicago Hope” (9.8/15 in homes — its top rating since Sept. 30, 1998, 3.6/10 in adults 18-49) injured “Stark Raving Mad” (8.7/14 in homes, 5.6/15 in adults 18-49) and “48 Hours” (10.2/17 in homes, 4.3/12 in adults 18-49) scooped the second half of “ER” (10.2/17 in homes, 6.6/18 in adults 18-49).
It was CBS’ highest-rated regular-fare Thursday since Nov. 6, 1997.
NBC will no doubt reassert its absolute control of the night once its lineup returns to firstrun, but last week’s results demonstrate the vulnerability of a schedule that isn’t working at 8:30 (with “Jesse”) and relies heavily on a continuing drama whose ratings decline significantly in rerun (“ER”).
From 8-9 p.m., “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (5.8/10 in homes, 4.1/12 in adults 18-49) improvised ABC’s best regular-sked in-season 18-49 rating that hour since Feb. 6, 1997 (“High Incident”).
The WB’s “Radio Music Awards” (2.2/3 in homes, 1.3/4 in adults 18-49) went home empty-handed, settling for that netlet’s lowest Thursday numbers this season.
Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.24 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. The share is also a percentage, but measured against only viewers watching TV during the slot involved.