NBC leads primetime; Fox follows

ABC loses step in 18-49 demo race, CBS welcomes homes

ABC has stumbled in its pursuit of primetime demo leader NBC, leaving Fox to take up the chase.

In July 26-Aug. 1 Nielsens, ABC saw its revamped comedy slate cool somewhat in its second try, allowing Fox to move into second place for the week among adults 18-49. Fox surged thanks to some welcome growth from its summer firstrun offerings and a strong Thursday improvement over the net’s punchless regular sked with a third net telecast of “Bad Boys.”

CBS beat NBC for the week’s households crown, the Eye’s fourth win in five weeks. CBS’ homes accomplishments, though, are being somewhat undercut this summer by renewed weakness in the younger-demo categories that attract big ad rates. For the third quarter to date (regular fare only), CBS is down 24% among adults 18-34 (with a 1.6 average rating, vs. last year’s 2.1), the biggest percentage drop among the Big Four.

The CBS team was led last week by Monday’s “Everybody Loves Raymond,” first for the week in total viewers and tied for second in homes behind only “Frasier.”

In adults 18-49, last week’s averages were: NBC, a 3.4 rating, 12 share (down in rating by 13% vs. results for the same week last year); Fox, 3.1/11 (down 9%); ABC, 2.9/10 (down 3%); CBS, 2.4/8 (down 14%); WB, 1.2/4 (even); UPN, 0.8/3 (down 20%); Pax TV, a 0.3 rating. It was Fox’s highest average, excepting the week of the Baseball All-Star Game, since May 31-June 6.

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were: HBO, 1.2/4 (up 9%); USA, 1.0/3 (up 25%); TNT, 0.8/3 (even); TBS, 0.7/2 (up 75% over year-ago Goodwill Games results); Lifetime, 0.5/2 (even); Discovery, 0.5/2 (up 25%).

Sunday

NBC’s broadcast debut of “Judge Dredd” locked up the Aug. 1 win in adults 18-49. At 8 p.m., the Peacock’s debut of “You Asked for It” finished a mediocre third in the 18-49 demo. For an all-firstrun Sunday with regular fare, NBC slipped to its lowest homes rating ever.

CBS led the night by that measure, as “Undue Influence” peddled the highest household rating among all rerun multiple-parters aired so far this summer.

Fox is floundering on Sundays, last week settling for fourth place on the night in adults 18-49, down 25% from that lineup’s year-earlier first-place results. The biggest drop comes at 9 p.m., with a 40% fall for “The X-Files.”

Saturday

With the competition collapsing from 8-9 p.m., Fox cruised to the Saturday win.

Friday

ABC led Friday, as its temporary “TGIF” lead-off hitter “Home Improvement” continues to energize that lineup. Last week, “Home” helped the Alphabet outpower NBC’s “Providence” rerun by 3 shares in the 18-49 demo. “The Hughleys,” skedded to take over Friday’s leadoff spot this fall, retained an OK 90% of “Home’s” 18-49 lead-in.

Thursday

The rerun pic “Bad Boys” pulled Fox within 5 shares of NBC’s dominant Thursday lineup in adults 18-49. “Boys” beat the listless 18-49 average of Fox’s regular Thursday combo (“Police Chases” and animation) by 28%, demonstrating the challenge Fox faces in establishing a Thursday animation beachhead.

With weak specials leading into it, ABC’s “Nightline in Primetime” fell 29% below the 18-49 average of slot predecessor “Vanished” (with a 2.2 rating vs. a 3.1).

Wednesday

NBC topped ABC’s revised Wednesday lineup, which continues to miss “Dharma & Greg.” “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” cooled slightly in its second week at 8 p.m. and “The Norm Show” retained a so-so 94% of “Pizza’s” 18-49 lead-in. In homes, it was ABC’s lowest-rated Wednesday since New Year’s Eve 1997.

CBS’ new Wednesday leadoff hitter “Cosby” improved by 20% among adults 25-54 in its second try on the night (with a 2.4 rating, up from a 2.0).

That still kept CBS fourth for the half-hour. Fox’s two-hour “Signs From God” spec lifted that net 19% above its Wednesday adults 25-54 average this summer (3.2 vs. a 2.7).

Tuesday

ABC’s reconfigured Tuesday team softened in its second week, keeping the Alphabet behind NBC in both homes and adults 18-49.

In its second Tuesday try, “Dharma & Greg” sagged by 16% in adults 18-49, barely maintaining its lead over slot rival “Just Shoot Me.” At 8 p.m., however, “Spin City” picked up momentum, winning that half-hour by an impressive 4 shares in adults 18-49. Then at 8:30, “It’s Like, You Know…” held a fair 92% of that 18-49 lead-in from “Spin.”

Firstrun newsmag “Fox Files” reported its best Tuesday results this summer.

Monday

Led by best-yet Monday firstrun results for “That ’70s Show,” Fox won July 26 in adults 18-49. CBS nipped ABC for the homes win (Daily Variety, July 28).

Each household rating point represents an estimated 994,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV households. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.239 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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