Baseball throws out typical ratings fare
A strong Sunday, capped by hefty week-to-week ratings gains for “The Practice,” has helped ABC clinch the second week of the season in total viewers, although NBC will prevail among adults 18-49.
When Nielsen issues the final averages today, the Peacock is projected to edge past the Alphabet in 18-49 despite seeing significant week-two ratings dropoffs for three of its rookie dramas, including Sunday’s “Ed.” The quirky drama was squeezed out by heavy-duty sports competition on the night and was also hampered by a late start in most of the country — making an accurate assessment of its ratings strength difficult after just two outings.
With NBC’s coverage of baseball’s American League Championship Series (New York Yankees-Seattle Mariners) running well into primetime Sunday, it made for another atypical night in an early season disrupted on an almost nightly basis by baseball and debates.
Night also included a 20-minute National Football League overrun on Fox (7-7:20 p.m.), the same net’s coverage of the National League Championship Series in baseball (N.Y. Mets-St. Louis Cardinals) from 8-11:15 p.m. ET, as well as an attractive, big-city NFL matchup on ESPN (Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears) beginning at 8:30 ET.
The A.L. game’s 8:28 p.m. ET finish meant that “Ed” (prelim 10.5 million, 4.7/11 in 18-49) was pushed back about 30 minutes in about 80% of the country. It competed, at least for a half-hour, against the season preem of CBS’ “Touched by an Angel” (15.1 million, 4.0/9 in A18-49), which had been preempted a week earlier due to an NFL overrun.
“Ed” fell by 33% in viewers and by 28% in adults 18-49 compared with its boffo debut one week earlier in fast nationals (15.7 million, 6.5). “Angel” was down by 18% in viewers and by 15% in 18-49 vs. its September 1999 season premiere.
NBC notes that “Ed” averaged a 9.7 rating in Nielsen’s metered markets in the West, where the series aired on time and with fewer sports distractions, compared with a 7.2 in the rest of the country.
Perhaps a better indication of how the “Ed”/”Angel” showdown will play out comes this week. Both will have to face Game 2 of the World Series on Fox, but at least they will start on time and don’t appear to be in danger of being preempted.
ABC won Sunday by 2 shares over CBS in homes (about 3.1 million viewers) and by 4 shares over CBS in adults 18-49.
At 10, “The Practice” gained by 21% in viewers (to a prelim 19.8 million) vs. its premiere a week earlier and by 19% in adults 18-49 (to a 7.4/18).
Getting in on ‘Act’
The drama got a nice boost from its lead-ins, as the fifth airing of “Sister Act 2” delivered the largest audience for the “Wonderful World of Disney” since May (13.3 million) and its best 18-49 rating (4.6/12) since February. And at 9, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” posted its best Sunday ratings (21.3 million, 6.4/15) since August.
The WB’s first-year Sunday comedies “Hype” and “Nikki” combined for a 3.8 rating in overnights, down from the previous week’s 4.5. Each of the netlet’s other four comedies on the night were up, though.
Fox’s primetime baseball game Sunday averaged a 7.9/12 in overnights, down 12% from last year’s comparable contest, on the heels of an 8.1/14 in overnights for NBC’s Saturday game (down 9% from a year ago).
Projections for the week have ABC prevailing in homes with roughly a 10.1, well ahead of CBS (9.0), NBC (8.5), Fox (6.1), the WB (2.9) and UPN (2.8). In adults 18-49, NBC’s 5.3 will top ABC (5.1), CBS (3.9), Fox (3.8), UPN (1.9) and the WB (1.8).