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ABC scores with sports, Emmys

'MNF', kudocast award net with top ratings

Big scores from “Monday Night Football” and the Primetime Emmy Awards bookended a strong week for ABC, which cruised to its biggest summer ratings in several years.

The Alphabet web, which also received two big perfs from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” placed first in both total viewers (12.38 million) and adults 18-49 (4.6/13) for the second straight week, reasserting its first-place standing since CBS’ “Survivor” ended its run.

These numbers are ABC’s best in any week since May 22-28 (Michael J. Fox’s exit from “Spin City”), while its 1.5 rating-points advantage over the second-place finisher in adults 18-49 (Fox) is its largest since the week of May 1-7 (celebrity “Millionaire”).

It’s ABC’s best showing on a summer week since September 1996 in viewers and since September 1997 in adults 18-49. The Alphabet also says that its 4 million-plus viewer advantage over second-place CBS makes it the net’s biggest summer victory by that measure since at least 1990, when it began tracking total viewers.

According to Nielsen, Tuesday’s edition of “Millionaire” (23.26 million viewers) held off both football (22.91) and the Emmys (21.80) to rank as the most-watched program of the Sept. 4-10 frame, helping the Alphabet capture seven of the top 10 shows in total viewers, including the first six spots.

ABC also dominated in the key advertiser demo of adults 18-49, taking the top four spots: “Monday Night Football” (9.7/27), the Emmys (8.8/21), Tuesday’s “Millionaire” (6.2/18) and Thursday’s “Millionaire” (5.5/18).

Fox’s second-place finish in adults 18-49 (3.1/9) is its best showing since the week of March 27-April 2. Net used a strong 33-minute NFL overrun (8.5/29) on Sunday to surpass CBS and NBC, which tied for third with a 2.9/8.

For the second straight week, UPN delivered a 1.6/5 in adults 18-49 — its best demo number since May. Contributing last week were the season preems of “Moesha” and “The Parkers,” which delivered the netlet’s best Monday in more than two years.

Broadcast nets’ adults 18-49 averages for Sept. 4-10: ABC, a 4.6 rating/13 share (up 44% in rating vs. last year); Fox, 3.1/9 (down 30%); CBS, 2.9/8 (up 4%), tied with NBC, 2.9/8 (down 17%); UPN, 1.6/5 (up 33%); the WB, 1.1/3 (even).

Monday

After a strong start a week earlier, ABC’s Sept. 11 “Monday Night Football” game between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets drew an audience (17.30 million viewers) that’s better than just two of last season’s 17 games.

In its second week on Mondays, ABC’s “20/20 – Downtown” built by 12% in adults 18-49 (3.7/12 vs. 3.3/9).

UPN preem of “The Hughleys” (5.82 million, 2.4/6 in A18-49) and the series premiere of “Girlfriends” (4.87, 2.1/5) scored solid ratings for the netlet, including its largest Monday aud (5.72 million) since April 1998. “Hughleys,” which aired on ABC last season, also scored the time period’s highest rating among teens (4.7/15) since its January 1995 premiere featuring a two-hour “Star Trek: Voyager.”

“Since You’ve Been Gone,” Fox’s latest attempt at a quizshow, will likely be gone after its weak premiere numbers (3.38 million, 1.5/4 in A18-49).

Sunday

The Emmys (21.80 million, 8.8/21 in A18-49), which improved in final nationals, helped ABC to a convincing victory (Daily Variety, Sept. 12).

The WB’s first try with “The PJs” (a former Fox show) at 9:30 was a minor success, as the animated laffer retained all of its repeat “Steve Harvey” lead-in in adults 18-49 (1.2) and most of its total audience (2.80 million vs. 2.89 million). Netlet also saw solid numbers from 7 to 8 p.m., with “Jamie Foxx” and “For Your Love” combining for a 1.0 rating in adults 18-49, topping the summer average of “7th Heaven Beginnings” (0.7).

Saturday

CBS delivered its largest Saturday audience since May (8.22 million) and its best 18-49 rating (3.3/11) since April 1 (NCAA basketball).

Leading the way was a strong 18-49 showing for repeat pic “Sleepless in Seattle” (4.1/13) and the best Saturday demo rating to date for “Big Brother” (2.7/9), which was pushed back to 8:30 by U.S. Open tennis.

Fox still had enough to edge CBS in adults 18-49 (3.4 vs. 3.3) for its 10th straight Saturday win in the demo. Top score came from the 8:30 repeat episode of “Cops,” which logged the series’ best score since April 29.

Friday

The season finale of “Making the Band” (6.47 million, 2.8/9 in A18-49) placed first in all key demos and delivered its largest aud in eight weeks. Surprisingly, though, the music-based reality skein fell behind last week’s penultimate seg in 18-49 (2.9/10).

One week after “Seven” delivered Fox’s best Friday 18-49 score since April (3.1/12), a repeat of the “Teen Choice Awards” dealt the net one of its worst Friday scores ever (1.4/5).

Thursday

The “MTV Video Music Awards” helped the cable net win the night in adults 18-49 (4.7/13) and adults 18-34 (6.8/21), despite drops of 17% and 8%, respectively, from last year. In total viewers, its 9.85 million is almost twice as much as the MTV Movie Awards drew in June (5.10 million).

Original episodes of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and UPN’s “WWF Smackdown” actually gained in the 18-34 demo opposite the MTV spec, up 15% and 9% vs. a week ago, respectively.

ABC, which won the night in total viewers (13.12 million), drew its largest audience at 10 p.m. in eight weeks with “Vanished” (12.77 million). Spec also topped NBC’s “ER” in adults 18-49 (4.4/12 to 4.1/11) and sent CBS’ “48 Hours” to its weakest demo score of the summer (1.8/5).

Wednesday

CBS won in adults 18-49 (3.8/11) for the 15th straight Wednesday, as “Big Brother” (5.0/16) topped its week-earlier score (4.7/15) for its best rating in the demo for any episode that didn’t follow “Survivor.”

CBS won the hour by 6 shares in adults 18-49 over NBC, but several other shows continue to improve now that they no longer have to face “Survivor”: The WB’s “Dawson’s Creek” (1.1/3) hit a summer high while ABC comedies “Two Guys and a Girl” (2.4/8) and “Norm” (2.6/8) each matched their summer bests.

NBC edged ahead of CBS in viewers (10.74 million vs. 10.44), boosted by the second-largest aud of the summer for a regularly skedded seg of “West Wing” (10.24 million).

Tuesday

In an encouraging sign for ABC, “Millionaire” rebounded to its best numbers in 12 weeks in total viewers (23.26 million), adults 18-49 (6.2/18) and adults 18-34 (4.8/16). Quizzer especially feasted on its 8:30 competish, winning by 13 shares in adults 18-49 over Fox and NBC.

Viewers are finding “Mysterious Ways” on Pax, which grew by 68% in viewers (1.51 million vs. .90 million) and by 67% in adults 18-49 (0.5 vs. 0.3) vs. its week-earlier bow.

Monday

ABC cruised on Sept. 4 behind big debut numbers for “Monday Night Football” (Daily Variety, Sept. 7).

“Moesha” and “The Parkers” helped UPN improve on last season’s Monday average by 50% in adults 18-49 (2.1/5 vs. 1.4/4), by 53% in adults 18-34 (2.3/7 vs. 1.5/4) and by 37% in viewers (4.8 million vs. 3.5 million).

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