JonBenet biopic wins pageant of the minis

ABC took control of the February sweeps race in adults 18-49 with a decisive victory over NBC last week as five episodes of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and strong movie perfs proved the difference.

For the week of Feb. 21-27, the Alphabet web also extended its consecutive victory streak in total viewers to nine weeks, its longest streak in five seasons.

CBS also had a good week, as the highest-rated Grammy Awards since 1993 and a solid bow for the JonBenet Ramsey mini “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town” lifted the net to its best households rating of the season and best adults 18-49 score (excluding the 1998 Winter Olympics) in the three years since Grammy week in 1997.

The Grammys will finish the sweep with the second-highest adults 18-49 average for any single night. The awards show’s 12.6 rating, 31 share in the key demo ranks behind only NBC’s big Thursday of Feb. 17 (14.7/36).

ABC, which has enjoyed a strong run with theatricals this season, got a boost from its original, “The Beach Boys: An American Family,” which clinched the week for the net with its strong Sunday bow. The two-part biopic (7.1 rating in adults 18-49) will likely finish the sweep as the top-ranked movie in adults 18-49, just ahead of the net’s premiere of “Ransom” (6.9) on Feb. 21.

CBS’ “Perfect Murder,” which concludes tonight, has a chance to rank as the most-watched mini of the sweep, battling it out with the Eye’s “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal,” which averaged 17.16 million viewers for its two nights.

NBC’s “ER” continued its strong sweep, finishing as the most-watched program of the week for the third consecutive frame, drawing 31.31 million viewers. “Millionaire” episodes on Tuesday (29.30 million) and Sunday (28.72) ranked second and third.

Among adults 18-49, “ER” ranked first for the week (15.6/39), followed by the Grammy Awards (12.6/31) and NBC’s “Friends” (11.3/31).

For the week of Feb. 21-27, the adults 18-49 standings are: ABC, a 6.2 rating, 16 share (up 32% vs. a year ago); NBC, 5.2/14 (down 17%); CBS, 5.0/13 (up 2%); Fox, 4.8/13 (down 13%); UPN, 1.5/4 (up 36%); WB, 1.5/4 (down 25%); Pax, 0.2/1 (even).

In households, it’s: ABC, 10.9/18 (up 33%); CBS, 10.0/16 (down 6%); NBC, 8.7/14 (down 13%); Fox, 6.3/10 (down 17%); WB, 2.7/4 (down 23%); UPN, 2.6/4 (up 37%); Pax, 0.8/1 (even).

With two nights remaining in the February sweeps, the adults 18-49 standings are: ABC, 5.9/16 (up 18%); NBC, 5.6/15 (down 12%); Fox, 4.9/13 (down 9%); CBS, 4.0/11 (down 2%); UPN, 1.6; WB, 1.5; and Pax, 0.3 (comparative data not available for the last three).

In households for the sweeps, it’s: ABC, 10.2/17 (up 24%); NBC, 9.2/15 (down 9%); CBS, 9.1/15 (down 7%); Fox, 6.6/11 (down 8%); UPN, 2.8; WB, 2.7; and Pax, 0.8.

National primetime adults 18-49 averages for the top cable services were: HBO, 1.1/3 (even); USA, 0.9/2 (even); TBS, 0.7/2 (-30%); TNT, 0.6/2 (down 25%); Lifetime, 0.5/1 (even), tied with Discovery Channel, 0.5/1 (even).

Monday

CBS’ “Grapevine” (11.14 million, 4.0/9 in adults 18-49) stumbled against stiff competition in its debut Feb. 28, retaining just 60% of its young adults lead-in from “Everybody Loves Raymond” (17.53 million, 6.3/15). The net can hope that it rebounds next week when it slides into its regular slot between “King of Queens” and “Raymond” and away from intense sweeps competition.

ABC won the night with an average 19.6 million viewers and an adults 18-49 rating of 7.5/19. An 8 p.m. episode of “Millionaire” (28.45 million, 9.3/23 in adults 18-49) gave a boost to part two of “The Beach Boys” mini, which dropped about 17% in adults 18-49 compared with Sunday’s opener.

Fox placed a competitive second in the key demo as a guest appearance from Tina Turner brought “Ally McBeal” (15.24 million, 8.4/20 in adults 18-49) its best ratings of the sweep.

NBC’s part two of “10th Kingdom” (prelim 11.05 million, 4.4/11 in adults 18-49) faced “Millionaire” in its first hour and predictably took a hit. It did rebound in the second hour but finished the night 23% behind Sunday’s part one in adults 18-49.

Sunday

The battle of minis on the Big 3 nets was a split decision, with ABC’s “Beach Boys” (17.84 million, 7.6/17 in adults 18-49) winning in demos and CBS’ “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town” (18.87 million, 6.4/14) prevailing in homes and total viewers. (Daily Variety, Feb. 28)

An 8 p.m. episode of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (28.72 million, 9.4/22 in adults 18-49) provided a nice lead-in to the Beach Boys tale, while NBC’s “Kingdom” (14.04 million, 5.7/13 in adults 18-49) couldn’t overcome its weak lead-in from the net’s NBA coverage and “Dateline.”

Fox hung tough as “The X-Files” (15.31 million, 8.3/17) won its hour over the mini competish, while “The Simpsons” and “Malcolm in the Middle” were off only by about 5% opposite “Millionaire.”

Saturday

Each net had something to be happy about on a very competitive night that saw Fox’s reality series “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” lift the net to first in adults 18-49.

ABC finished 1 share behind with a re-broadcast of “Ransom,” while CBS won in total viewers and NBC in adults 25-54. The Peacock’s “The Others” improved on its “Profiler” lead-in by a best-yet 33%; the series will switch timeslots beginning March 11.

Friday

NBC’s “Providence” and “Law & Order: SVU” each won their hours in adults 18-49 to keep the net just one-tenth of a rating point behind ABC on a night that included a special “Millionaire” (23.14 million, 6.6/20 in adults 18-49) from 8:30 to 9:30.

Fox placed a strong third in adults 18-49, just two shares off the lead, with its two-hour block of “World’s Wildest Police Videos.”

Thursday

NBC won the night by a convincing 13 shares in adults 18-49, although ABC narrowed the gap a bit with its highest-rated newsmag perf on a Thursday (16.95 million, 5.8/15 in adults 18-49) since December 1997, thanks to a “20/20 Downtown” interview with “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” bride Darva Conger.

“Frasier” continued to distance itself from “Millionaire” in adults 18-49, topping the gamer by a wider margin in each week of the sweep.

Wednesday

The Grammy Awards on CBS dominated the night with the kudocast’s largest audience (27.78 million) and adults 18-49 rating (12.6/31) since 1993 (Daily Variety, Feb. 25). The show did especially well among teens (13.4/39, up 25% vs. a year ago) and women 18-49 (15.5/36).

A special 8 p.m. episode of “Millionaire” lost its hour in total viewers for the first time this season.

Tuesday

“Millionaire” (29.30 million, 9.7/26 in adults 18-49) lifted ABC to a 6-share victory in adults 18-49 over NBC on Feb. 22.

At 10 p.m., “Dateline” drew its third-largest adults 18-49 rating (6.7/18) of the season thanks to an interview with Rick Rockwell, the groom in Fox’s “Marry a Multi-Millionaire” special. (Daily Variety, Feb. 24)

Monday

Fox won Feb. 21 in adults 18-49 — its third straight Monday triumph — as new Monday regular “That ’70s Show” won each of its half-hours in adults 18-49 and “Ally McBeal” helped the net make it a clean sweep among young adults. ABC won the night in total viewers and placed a close second in demos with the broadcast premiere of “Ransom.” (Daily Variety, Feb. 24)

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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