CBS 'Secret' dominates Sunday

The future still looks good for Fox’s “Futurama” despite expected cooling in its second Sunday. The assignment gets tougher for the new Matt Groening animated comedy, though, today as it transfers to a weaker Fox lineup.

The second “Futurama” episode this Sunday achieved an 8.1 rating, 14 share in homes and a 6.8/19 in adults 18-49, according to preliminary Nielsens, giving the rookie sitcom a solid 5% improvement over its 18-49 lead-in from “The Simpsons” (7.3/13 in homes, 6.5/20 in adults 18-49).

Ratings dip

That’s down, though, from a stratospheric 23% climb for “Futurama’s” previous-week episode, which was the best-ever build on a firstrun “Simpsons” lead-in for any comedy besides an extra “Simpsons.”

CBS, meanwhile, dominated Sunday results with the Della Reese- Crystal Bernard-Ossie Davis vidpic “The Secret Path” (a prelim 14.8/25 in homes, 6.8/18 in adults 18-49). “Path” led CBS to its first Sunday victory in adults 18-49 in 11 weeks as the Eye beat the combined rating of its closest two pursuers in households.

If prelim figures for “Path” hold up when updated by Nielsen today, it’ll be CBS’ top-rated Sunday pic in adults 18-49 since “Marriage of Convenience” on Oct. 11 (6.8/18).

“Path’s” Sunday surge, combined with last Monday’s men’s NCAA basketball finals, will make CBS the easy winner for the March 29-April 4 primetime week in households and raise the Eye to second for the week in adults 18-49. It will be CBS’ highest finish in the 18-49 demo since the February 1998 Winter Olympics.

When Nielsen announces those weeklong results today, CBS is expected to top runner-up NBC in homes by about a 0.6 ratings point edge, but trail the Peacock in adults 18-49 by a margin of about 0.8. Fox and ABC appear headed toward a third-place tie in that demo.

“Futurama’s” 5% build on its 18-49 lead-in is the second-best performance Fox has managed (behind last week’s “Futurama” results) after a firstrun “Simpsons” since the Jan. 10 preview of “The PJs.” “That ’70s Show” averaged a 2% falloff vs. lead-in with its last five tries in that slot following a firstrun “Simpsons.”

Tough Tuesday

Tuesdays will prove a bigger challenge for “Futurama.” Season-to-date, Fox is running third on the night in adults 18-49 with an anemic 4.3/12 average, well behind ABC’s 6.0/16 and NBC’s 5.3/14. Sunday slots are cushier since Fox is averaging a first place 6.8/17 in adults 18-49 on nonsports Sundays this season.

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