Kudocast a winner

Fox scores victory with 'Billboard Awards'

In the year of the drama, some of the networks are starting to experience the downside of the genre — most dramas simply don’t rerun very well.

As a result, Fox has won the Dec. 6-12 primetime Nielsens week in adults 18-49, its first victory this season, by subbing the strong “Billboard Music Awards” for Wednesday dramas that would have been clobbered in rerun. And CBS earned its third straight households triumph by airing just a single hour of rerun drama last week and otherwise plugging holes with eight hours of specials, mostly Christmas themed.

The low rerun-drama numbers hit hardest at the WB, which tripped to its lowest weeklong homes average in-season since April 28-May 4, 1997, and NBC, which equaled its lowest in-season 18-49 rating since Super Bowl week.

The WB experimented with an all-drama schedule last week, and 11 of those 13 hours were reruns. It was a stretch for a netlet whose dramas generally nosedive in rerun. Wednesday’s “Dawson’s Creek,” for example, evaporated to just half its firstrun 18-49 average this season (with a 1.0 rating vs. a 2.0) and Tuesday’s “Angel,” managed barely one-third its original-seg average (0.9 vs. 2.4).

NBC also has trouble maintaining its competitive position when its Thursday and Friday cornerstones, “ER” and “Providence,” go into rerun. Last week, an “ER” repeat charted barely half the series’ firstrun 18-49 average (7.5 vs. 14.4) while “Providence” settled for a 30% falloff (3.3 vs. 4.7).

Net numbers are also sagging because of strong cable competition. Last week, the four-net rating dropped to a season-low 28.2 while the basic-cable segment hit a season-high 26.2.

The week’s adults 18-49 averages: Fox, a 4.5 rating, 13 share (down 6% vs. the same week last year); NBC, 4.4/12 (down 14%); ABC, 4.2/12 (down 12%); CBS, 3.5/10 (down 8%); UPN, 1.5/4 (up 36%); WB, 1.2/3 (down 20%); Pax TV, 0.3/1 (up 50%).

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services were: ESPN, 1.4/4 (up 8%); TBS, 1.2/4 (up 33%); HBO, 1.1/3 (down 8%); USA, 1.1/3 (up 38%); TNT, 0.7/2 (down 13%).

MONDAY

ABC’s Dec. 13 Denver-Jacksonville football crossed the goal line with a 13.3 rating, 22 share in homes and a 7.6/21 in adults 18-49, keeping ABC first for the night.

CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond” (12.2/18 in homes, 6.3/16 in adults 18-49) was the first series to intercept a half-hour from “Monday Night Football” in homes in eight weeks. Fox’s “Ally McBeal” (9.9/15 in homes, 8.1/20 in adults 18-40) has punted football in adults 18-49 six times in those eight weeks.

At 8 p.m., Fox’s underachieving rookie “Time of Your Life” won its hour in adults 18-34 with a 4.0/13. At 9:30, CBS’ “Becker” injected its best-ever viewer total, 16.8 million.

The WB’s “7th Heaven” (4.2/7 in homes, 2.0/6 in adults 18-49) descended to its lowest firstrun homes rating since May 1998.

SUNDAY

Fox got a scrawny football overrun from its weak Atlanta-San Francisco NFL matchup, but still got enough of a boost to lead Sunday in adults 18-49 for the fourth time in five weeks.

CBS’ second-highest-rated movie this fall, “A Season for Miracles,” kept the Eye first in households.

Lowest-yet numbers for ABC’s lame-duck “Snoops” dragged “The Practice” to season-low results.

The week’s top-rated cablecast was ESPN’s Minnesota-Kansas City football, which tackled a 4.3 adults 18-49 rating nationally.

SATURDAY

CBS’ “Stars on Ice” wobbled, but still matched last year’s 18-49 marks on NBC (a 2.2 rating). That skating lead-in sent “Walker, Texas Ranger” sliding to its lowest-ever firstrun homes rating.

HBO’s made-for-cable pic “Witness Protection” found a national 1.9 18-49 rating, though HBO reaches just 31% of the country’s TV homes.

FRIDAY

Fox surprised Friday’s 18-49 competition, sweeping the 8-10 half-hours with “World’s Wildest Police Videos” and “Greed.”

UPN’s Friday pic continues to gain momentum, last week sailing to the netlet’s best-ever Friday homes rating with a rerun of “Lost in the Bermuda Triangle.” The vidpic floated 23% above its first airing last February.

The WB, meanwhile, sunk to its lowest Friday 18-49 level in six weeks with special reruns of rookie dramas “Roswell” and “Angel.”

THURSDAY

NBC took the night by 17 shares, as a Daphne-discovers-Niles-loves-her twist on “Frasier” revealed that series’ top Nielsens since September. That apparently created enough of a “Friends”-to-“Frasier” hammock to help “Jesse” to its highest-ever retention of a “Friends” 18-49 lead-in, 96%. At 9:30, though, “Stark Raving Mad” held just 74% of the strong “Frasier” 18-49 lead-in, “Stark’s” spookiest retention rate to date.

Oakland-Tennessee NFL football on ESPN swept to a 3.1 national 18-49 rating, cable’s third-best stats for the week behind only Sunday football and Monday wrestling.

WEDNESDAY

Fox walked off with Wednesday honors in the 18-49 category thanks to the “Billboard Music Awards,” which beat its year-ago Monday teen rating by 38% (9.5/31 vs. 6.9/21). The award show was the week’s highest-rated telecast among teens.

CBS led the night in homes with its second-highest-rated Wednesday pic this season, “A Holiday Romance.”

“It’s Like, You Know …” joined the Wednesday sked and retained a solid 94% of its 18-49 lead-in, down from the 96% average of predecessor “Norm.”

TUESDAY

ABC got a good first Tuesday try from “Oh Grow Up,” which retained 100% of its “Spin City” 18-49 lead-in, up from the 85% average for predecessor “It’s Like, You Know …” The half-hour was made a lot easier when Fox moved out “That ’70s Show,” which averaged a far-out 57% 18-49 build vs. its lead-in, and tried “Ally,” which dropped vs. lead-in by 40% (Daily Variety, Dec. 9).

CBS took the night in homes, as a pair of “Frosty” specs danced to their highest ratings in three years.

UPN got season highs from “Shasta McNasty” and “Dilbert.”

MONDAY

Minnesota-Tampa Bay football and the top Monday “20/20” of the season scooped the Dec. 6 competition (Daily Variety, Dec. 8).

Each household rating point represents an estimated 1 million homes, or 1% of the country’s TV households. 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 the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.

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