Eye web wins with tourney

NBC and Fox had flashier showings from their midseason offerings and CBS beefed up its male demo averages with basketball, but ABC again emerged the ratings winner last week — its 14th straight triumph.

The Alphabet net matched its longest streak ever in total viewers, set during the 1978-79 season, by topping second-place CBS by 1.7 million viewers for the week of March 27-April 2. ABC has also won the past seven weeks in the key demo of adults 18-49.

CBS is off to a good start this week at perhaps ending ABC’s total-viewers streak with a victory Monday. The Eye net won the night rather easily despite the lowest-rated men’s college basketball final ever in primetime. (See separate story.)

According to Nielsen, three editions of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” again topped the week’s list of most-watched programs, but its Sunday seg (25.72 million viewers, 8.6/20 in adults 18-49) was the quizzer’s least-watched Sunday installment since Nov. 14 (25.2 million) and its adults 18-49 share was its lowest on a Sunday since Jan. 16 (19).

Midseason shows that held up best in their second outings last week were Fox’s “Titus” and NBC’s “Daddio.” The pair continue a trend over the past couple of seasons in which anything with siblings is hot: During that span, it has been family dramas such as “Providence” and “Judging Amy” and laffers like “Malcolm in the Middle” and “That ’70s Show” that have made the biggest impressions in the ratings.

March 27-April 2 adults 18-49 averages were: ABC, a 5.0 rating/14 share (up 28% vs. the same week a year ago); NBC, 4.2/12 (down 14%), tied with Fox, 4.2/12 (up 8%); CBS, 3.8/11 (down 7%); UPN, 1.5/4 (up 36%); the WB, 1.1/3 (down 21%); and Pax, 0.3/1 (even).

In households, it’s: ABC, 9.3/16 (up 31%); CBS, 8.3/14 (down 8%); NBC, 7.5/13 (down 11%); Fox, 5.6/9 (up 2%); UPN, 2.6/4 (up 30%); the WB, 2.1/3 (down 22%); and Pax, 0.8/1 (even).

Adults 18-49 ratings for the nation’s top cable services: HBO, 1.2/3 (even); TNT, 1.0/3 (up 25%); USA, 0.9/3 (down 10%); Lifetime, 0.7/2 (up 40%), tied with TBS, 0.7/2 (down 13%).

Sunday

CBS won the night in total viewers, handing ABC its first Sunday setback in seven weeks. “60 Minutes” (17.54 million, 4.0/13 in adults 18-49) withstood the shift to daylight saving time very well, winning its hour by 14 shares in homes and by 7 shares in its target demo of adults 25-54.

In an unusual turnabout, each of “Millionaire’s” timeslot foes added viewers in the 9:30 half-hour; usually, the audience for “Millionaire” builds so substantially in the second half that it blows away the other nets, with many viewers sampling Fox’s “The X-Files” or pics on CBS and NBC before making “Millionaire” their final answer at 9:30.

Fox’s “The X-Files,” for example, had lost at least some of its audience in the second half-hour every time it faced “Millionaire” this season, but this week it gained more than half a million viewers at 9:30.

The WB’s “D.C.” (1.6/3 in homes, 0.7/2 in A18-49) debuted down 27% in homes and 48% in adults 18-49 from the netlet’s timeslot average this season with “Felicity.” Also, its comedy hour of “Movie Stars” and “Zoe” combined for a 1.4/2 in homes and a 0.8/2 in young adults, down 26% and 16%, respectively, from the averages of previous slot occupant “Jack & Jill.”

Saturday

College basketball lifted CBS to its best Saturday demos of the season. The semifinal between North Carolina and Florida (15.24 million, 6.0/20 in adults 18-49) helped the Eye net win by 7 shares in adults 18-49 — its largest margin of victory in the demo on any night this season, excepting the Grammy Awards. The game was also the week’s No. 1 program among men 18-49 (8.1).

ABC’s “World Figure Skating Championships” (7.90 million, 2.0/6 in A18-49) received low marks from viewers, slipping 29% and 35% below the total-viewer and adults 18-49 marks, respectively, for February’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships, also on a Saturday.

Friday

In its second seg, ABC’s “Making the Band” retained all of its teen lead-in from “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (4.2) but could only hold 88% of its adults 18-49 lead-in. Of course, “Band” isn’t getting much help, as last week each of the three comedies that preceded it logged its lowest homes rating ever.

Auds apparently are no longer feeling the need for as much “Greed” (8.33 million, 2.9/9 in A18-49). Fox’s quizzer is averaging 8.4 million viewers and an adults 18-49 rating of 2.9 for its last three installments, down 21% (10.6 million) in total viewers and 28% (4.0) in young adults from its average for the previous two months.

NBC’s “Dateline” is benefiting most from “Greed’s” misfortunes, this week winning its hour by 3 shares in adults 18-49. And in the 9:30 half-hour, “Dateline” distanced itself from a crowded pack, its 14 share topping the 9 share of ABC, CBS and Fox.

The Peacock won the night by 3 shares in adults 18-49 and by 5 shares in adults 25-54.

Thursday

ABC’s premiere of “Wonderland” placed second in its hour in total viewers and key demos, but the gritty drama lost 22% of its audience in the second half-hour. A truer indication of its long-term viability in the slot will come this week, when it airs opposite an original “ER” on NBC.

Without newsmag competition from ABC, CBS’ “48 Hours” (11.55 million, 3.6/10 in adults 18-49) clocked in with its best demo scores since Jan. 20.

In its second week, “Daddio” (15.17 million, 7.6/21 in 18-49 demo) retained 96% of the adults 18-49 from a “Friends” repeat — NBC’s best hold for any regularly scheduled comedy in the slot since “Just Shoot Me” (98%) on April 30, 1998.

NBC’s “Battery Park” (9.60 million, 5.0/13 in 18-49) retained just 75% of its repeat “Frasier” adults 18-49 lead-in. Opposite “Millionaire” this season, original episodes of “Stark Raving Mad” had averaged 88% retention following “Frasier” repeats.

UPN’s “WWF Smackdown!” drew its second-largest audience yet (8.3 million viewers). For the night, the netlet placed third among adults 18-34 (3.7/11) and adults 18-49 (3.1/18).

The viewer reception was weak for the broadcast preem of “Cable Guy” on Fox, which drew the net’s smallest Thursday-pic aud of the season (5.44 million).

Wednesday

ABC’s romantic comedy “Then Came You” (8.29 million, 4.0/11 in A18-49) came down a couple notches with its second episode. Last week it retained 89% of its adults 18-49 lead-in from “Two Guys and a Girl” (9.74 million, 4.5/13); a week earlier, the laffer built by 2% on “Two Guys” in young adults.

Fox got great numbers for its “World’s Funniest Game Show Moments” spec (10.69 million, 5.2/15 in A18-49), but the big lead-in didn’t help “Get Real” (5.00 million, 2.5/7), which held onto less than half of its audience in most categories.

ABC’s demo victory was capped by the most-watched “20/20″ Wednesday installment (11.98 million, 4.9/14 in A18-49) since Jan. 19. The newsmag finished 2 shares behind a repeat of NBC’s “Law & Order” in young adults one week after losing the hour by 10 shares to a “Law” original.

CBS’ “City of Angels” (8.51 million, 2.5/7 in adults 18-49) didn’t seem to benefit from an additional Tuesday airing the night before, as the first-year drama repeated its adults 18-49 score of a week ago. After some early promise, “City” is now logging demos that are on par with what the net had scored with comedies earlier in the season.

Tuesday

“Millionaire” dominated again, for the fifth straight week delivering more viewers in the 8 o’clock hour than CBS, NBC and Fox combined.

NBC’s “God, the Devil and Bob” (5.67 million, 2.6/7 in 18-49 demo) dropped to lowest-yet ratings and was canceled the next day.

“City of Angels” (10.37 million, 3.0/8), airing behind an original episode of “JAG” (15.17 million, 4.5/12 in adults 18-49), drew its largest audience of the season but only matched the third best demo score from its previous nine Wednesday outings. Regular CBS slot occupant “60 Minutes II” is averaging 13.2 million viewers and 3.2/8 in young adults this season.

UPN’s new Tuesday dramas are struggling. Last week, the netlet’s “Secret Agent Man” and “The Beat” averaged just one-half the adults 18-49 rating (0.7) of the WB’s dramas “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” (1.4), both of which were in repeat. On April 4, UPN announced that “Agent” was going on hiatus after that night’s episode.

Monday

Fox, with all original programming, easily won March 27 in adults 18-49 while placing a close second to ABC in total viewers. “Titus” held strong in its second outing, building on its “That ’70s Show” lead-in by 12% in total viewers and by 11% in adults 18-49 (Daily Variety, March 29).

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