Hoops droops at NBC

ABC's 'MNF,' 'Videos' help net keep pace with Peacock

ABC’s Monday football has bounced a lot higher than NBC’s Saturday basketball, putting the Alphabet in position to finish Christmas week in a virtual tie with the Peacock for first in the valuable adults 18-49 demographic.

Projected Dec. 20-26 primetime Nielsen results also show CBS skating to an easy victory in households, keeping the Eye undefeated by that measure during the five weeks since ABC wrapped its November run of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

That leaves NBC without a weeklong win in households since October. In addition, prior to the Dec. 20-26 week, the Peacock has tallied just one win and one tie since October in its target adults 18-49 demo.

CBS will win the Dec. 20-26 week in homes despite its lowest in-season average in nearly two years, since the Super Bowl week of January 1998. Such depressed levels were anticipated due to low Christmas-weekend viewership that generally produces the weakest ratings of the regular season.

Historic lows

In fact, each network is expected to hit a low-water households mark of some historical significance. ABC and NBC are on course to tie for second place for the week in homes, with NBC hitting its second-lowest in-season average ever and ABC tying its second-low figure. Fox is projected to equal its lowest in-season homes rating in nearly 11 years, since Jan. 16-22, 1989.

ABC is poised to possibly tie or beat NBC for the week in the key 18-49 demo, thanks mostly to its Dec. 20 Green Bay-Minnesota gridcast (15.1/26 in households, 9.6/27 in adults 18-49) — the third-highest-rated “Monday Night Football” matchup this season.

Primetime sport coverage on NBC was limited last week to Christmas night NBA basketball (New York-Indiana and San Antonio-L.A. Lakers), which settled for a third-place 4.3 rating, 9 share, in Saturday metered-market households. The last time NBC aired primetime hoops on Christmas, back in 1996, it had Michael Jordan on its side and scored a flashy 7.1/15 nationally.

Must-see ‘Videos’

ABC also kept pace with NBC for the week by hanging tough vs. the Peacock’s Thursday juggernaut. The biggest surprise that night was a holiday “America’s Funniest Home Videos” spec which captured a 4.7 rating, 14 share, in adults 18-49. That kept ABC just 4 shares behind NBC’s reruns for the hour, a huge improvement over the week-earlier 21-share deficit vs. firstrun NBC fare.

If final Dec. 20-26 averages favor NBC over ABC, a key blow will be Sunday’s strong demos from the Peacock’s “While You Were Sleeping” (a preliminary 5.4/14 in adults 18-49), which nearly doubled the competing ABC pic “Flirting With Disaster” (a prelim 2.9/8 in the 18-49 demo).

For the week, both ABC and NBC appear headed toward 4.2 ratings in adults 18-49, though ABC could easily round down a tenth, depending on how results shift when Nielsen updates Friday-through-Sunday figures today. For ABC, that 4.2 would rep a 5% drop vs. the year-ago week, but NBC would be up 17% vs. last year’s worst-ever in-season average. NBC was clobbered last year when its strong Thursday sked aired on Christmas Eve, usually the lowest viewership night of the season.

For the Dec. 20-26 week, Fox is expected to land third with a 3.4 rating (down 3%), followed by CBS’ 3.2 (down 3%).

Projected homes averages for the week are CBS, a 7.5 or 7.6 rating (down 3-4%); ABC, 6.8 (down 8%) tied with NBC, 6.8 (up 10%); and Fox, 4.9 (even).

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.

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