Fox outruns ABC for second place

For the second straight week, NBC’s Thursday lineup claimed the top five spots among adults 18-49, leading the Peacock to another victory in the key demo.

With “ER” leading the way (13.0/35) and strong premieres from its Friday lineup, NBC topped second-place Fox by 9% in adults 18-49 (5.1/14 to 4.7/13) for the week of Oct. 16-22, with ABC a close third (4.6/13).

According to Nielsen, the Alphabet web won for a second straight week in total viewers (12.93 million), anchored by two editions of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (ranking fourth and fifth) and “The Practice” (seventh).

Fox used two games of the World Series and another strong showing from “Dark Angel” to deliver its largest weekly audience (11.44 million) since January. Its 4.7 rating in adults 18-49 is its best since February.

The Fall Classic, featuring a Subway Series between New York’s Mets and Yankees, got off to a sluggish start. Through two games, the Series is averaging a record low 12.1 rating in homes, 3% behind the previous low of 12.5 set in 1998 (Yankees-Padres), also on Fox.

Compared with last year’s Yankees-Braves series on NBC (14.6), it’s off by 17% through two games. Fox’s losses are only 10% vs. last year in adults 18-49, perhaps a reflection of the net’s overall younger skew.

The Series is also losing ground from a competitive standpoint. Last season, the first two games of the Series ranked second and fifth for the week in total viewers, while this season they placed eighth and 12th.

CBS, with its Wednesday and Sunday movies each scoring some of their lowest ratings of the past year, narrowly avoided a fourth-place finish in viewers (11.44 million), tying Fox.

Sunday

Game 2 of the World Series (12.6/20 in homes, 19.04m, 7.5/18 in A18-49) helped Fox take the night by all measures. It also ranked as the week’s top show in men 18-49 (9.9/24) and men 25-54 (10.9/23).

Despite airing opposite the Series, ABC’s “Millionaire” (20.37m) and “The Practice” (19.30m) each drew their largest auds in three tries this season. “Practice” outscored the game from 10-11 and also built on its “Millionaire” lead-in among adults 18-49 by a best-yet 17% (7.0 from 6.0).

NBC’s “Ed” thrived opposite the game, placing second in its hour in key demos and nearly catching CBS’ “Touched by an Angel” in total viewers (13.07m vs. 13.95m).

Saturday

The longest game in World Series history (four hours, seven minutes) lifted Fox to a nightly victory, including its best Saturday ratings in adults 18-34 (6.0/22) and men 18-34 (7.6/28) since game six of the 1996 World Series. Game scored an 11.5/22 in homes, with 17.56 million viewers and a 6.9/21 in adults 18-49.

ABC held tough, with a repeat of “Forrest Gump” (5.0/15) delivering the net’s best 18-49 rating with a Saturday movie since February 1999 (“Happy Gilmore”) and its largest aud (12.06m) since last November (“One Fine Day”).

NBC fell flat with theatrical repeat “Bridges of Madison County” (5.21m, 1.6/4 in A18-49). Net’s newfangled movie night, complete with a host and $100,000 in prize money for one of its viewers, premieres this week.

Friday

NBC took the night over CBS by 10% in viewers and by 29% in adults 18-49, led by winning season preems for “Providence” (12.71m, 4.1/14 in A18-49) and “Law & Order: SVU” (13.39m, 5.1/16).

Eye’s “The Fugitive,” facing “Providence” for the first time, lost 27% of its women 25-54 aud week to week. Even more startling, though, it was also down 18% in men 25-54.

CBS’ standout on the night continues to be “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which won its hour in viewers, 18-49 and 25-54 for the third straight week. Opposite “Dateline” for the first time, “CSI” was down week to week by just 10% in viewers and 18-49 while actually up a tick in adults 18-34.

UPN specs “World’s Nastiest Neighbors” and “Cheating Spouses: Caught on Tape” averaged 4.02 million viewers and a 1.8/6 in adults 18-49 — more than double the 1.84m and 0.7/2 the net scored a week earlier with a movie. At 9, “Cheating” came within 1 share of second place in men 35-49.

ABC slipped to its lowest in-season Friday audience (7.4 million) since Christmas Eve, as each of its comedies drew their smallest crowds this season.

Thursday

Despite customary week-after-premiere dropoffs for “Friends,” “Will & Grace” and “ER,” NBC actually scored a more convincing victory among adults 18-49 on the night. Net topped its competition by 64%, up from 53% a week earlier.

Maintaining this large of an advantage gets tougher in upcoming weeks, though, as new laffer “Cursed” takes over the 8:30 slot that had been occupied by firstrun “Friends” and “Will & Grace” segs for the first two weeks.

The other major nets were all down: Fox, with movie “Turbulence,” and CBS matched their lowest 18-49 Thursday scores of last season, with the latter tumbling to sixth in the demo for the night (1.6/4). And ABC (11.4 million viewers) slumped to its smallest Thursday aud since Jan. 6 and its weakest 18-49 rating (3.3/9) since Dec. 16 — both before “Millionaire” moved to the night.

“WWF Smackdown” lifted UPN to a second-place finish among men 18-34 (7.9/25) — 12 shares behind NBC but still 6 shares better than anybody else.

Wednesday

CBS’ laffers saw moderate drops but remained competitive in the hour. “Bette” again topped “Millionaire” in adults 18-49 (4.5 to 4.0) while “Welcome to New York” placed a solid second to the quizzer at 8:30.

In the first battle between Charlie Sheen (“Spin City”) and father Martin (“West Wing”), Dad won out in viewers while son prevailed in a close battle in adults 18-49. The NBC drama won out in women 18-49 (7.2/18) with the ABC sitcom, featuring its new lead actor, winning in men 18-49 (6.2/16).

Season preem for “Law & Order” (17.77m, 7.4/21 in A18-49) easily handled the timeslot preem for ABC’s “Gideon’s Crossing” (10.60m, 4.7/13).

NBC soap “Titans” fell 6 shares out of the 18-49 lead — up from 1 and 4 for its first two weeks. “Dawson’s Creek” took advantage of the “Titans” tumble to win its hour in women 18-34 (4.6/14) while also matching a series high among men 18-34 (2.7/9).

Tuesday

On a night that included the third and final presidential debate, Fox won in 18-49 behind “Dark Angel” (6.3/15). Among all new shows that have aired at least twice, the sci-fi drama is No. 1 in adults 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54.

Game 6 of the American League Championship Series (Yankees-Mariners) — NBC’s final baseball game for at least six seasons — helped the net to a second-place finish in both viewers (13.2 million) and 18-49 (5.2).

Monday

Rookie CBS laffer “Yes, Dear” delivered another winning perf (14.74m, 5.9/15 in A18-49), leading into the second-largest aud ever for “Everybody Loves Raymond” (21.26m).

“7th Heaven” and “Roswell” lifted the WB to its highest-rated Monday ever in women 18-34 (3.7/11), placing just 1 share out of second place.

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