'E.R.' leads as week's most-watched program

NBC continues to rule in the early-season ratings wars, last week winning for the fourth straight frame among young adults while also placing as the most-watched net for the first time this season.

The Peacock, showing demo gains on six nights vs. last year, delivered the strongest weekly average for any net this season in adults 18-49 (5.6/15), holding off an improving Fox by 2 shares, according to Nielsen. Net’s Thursday lineup once again swept the week’s top five slots in the demo, led by “ER” (14.6/37).

The medical drama was also the week’s most-watched program (27.81 million), giving NBC the No. 1 program in total viewers for a fifth straight week.

Elsewhere, Fox, the WB and UPN also had strong showings during the week of Oct. 30-Nov. 5, a period that included the first four nights of the November sweeps.

Fox, which continues to get solid scores for first-year dramas “Boston Public” and “Dark Angel,” successfully launched Wednesday laffer “Normal, Ohio” and scored demo victories on both Saturday and Sunday. It won the week in adults 18-34 with its best score of the season (5.3/16), placing seven of the week’s top 15 programs in the demo.

The Murdoch net also delivered its largest audience (10.42 million) and best 18-49 rating (5.1/13) since February for any week that didn’t include World Series games.

At the WB, Sunday’s comedy sked changes resulted in year-to-year gains, meaning the Frog net is up vs. last year on all six nights it programs and is now devoid of any real timeslot potholes. For the sweep, it’s up vs. last year more than any other net in adults 18-49 (27%), while its season-to-date gain of 21% in adults 18-34 is also the largest for any net.

Not that UPN is doing too shabbily. It’s up on all five of its nights in both total viewers and key adult demos, with Wednesday and Thursday continuing to be its strongest.

Through five nights, NBC leads the November sweep in adults 18-49 with a 5.8/15 (up 5% vs. a year ago), followed by Fox, 5.2/13 (up 4%); ABC, 4.5/12 (down 22%); CBS, 3.7/9 (even); and the WB, 1.9/5 (up 27%), tied with UPN, 1.9/5 (up 19%).

In total viewers, NBC leads with 13.6 million (up 1%); ABC, 12.6 million (down 19%); CBS, 12.2 million (down 3%); Fox, 10.6 million (up 3%); UPN, 4.7 million (up 8%); the WB, 4.5 million (up 19%).

Monday

Despite airing opposite each other, first-year hits “Yes, Dear” on CBS and “Boston Public” on Fox continue to impress. “Dear” delivered its best 18-49 score (6.1/15) since its premiere on Oct. 2, while “Boston” improved week-to-week and posted its best adults 18-34 rating (6.4/17) in three tries.

“Yes, Dear” combined with “King of Queens” (season-best 5.7/15) to tie “Boston” for the hour in adults 18-49 (5.9/15), with the CBS comedies pulling ahead in adults 25-54 (6.7 to 5.8) for the first time.

ABC won the night in both viewers (17.9 million) and 18-49 (7.4/18), with “20/20 — Downtown” and “Monday Night Football” combining for the net’s best Monday scores since Labor Day. Down-to-the-wire Vikings-Packers contest averaged 21.50 million viewers and a 9.5/25 in the demo, the third best numbers of 10 games this season.

NBC saw some gains with its revamped lineup, as a repeat “Law & Order” (3.2/7) improved on the week-earlier perf by now-canceled “Deadline” (2.6/6) by 23% in adults 18-49. That helped “Third Watch” to its best demo rating (4.8) in four weeks.

The WB’s “7th Heaven” continues to ascend, hitting its best adults 18-34 rating (3.5/10) since February 1999.

Sunday

Despite facing sweeps competish, the season premieres of “Futurama,” “King of the Hill,” “The Simpsons,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “The X-Files” boosted Fox to a nightly victory in adults 18-49 (7.2/16) and other key demos and a virtual second-place tie with CBS among total viewers (13.8 million). It was the net’s best showing in most demos since February.

Top performers were “The X-Files” (15.87m, 9.0/19 in A18-49) and “The Simpsons” (16.18m, 8.5/19).

NBC’s “Ed’ took a hit opposite the Fox comedies, dropping week-to-week by 13% in viewers (to 10.65m), by 17% in adults 18-49 (to 4.0/9) and by 29% in adults 18-34 (to 3.0/7).

ABC’s “Growing Pains” reunion pic (15.05m, 5.8/14 in A18-49) did very well, but CBS stumbled with part one of mini “Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis” (10.62m, 3.0/7 in A18-49); over the last two seasons, only two firstrun Sunday CBS pics have drawn a smaller aud or 18-49 rating.

The WB’s comedy night scored season highs across the board, including the best 18-34 marks for 8:30’s “Hype” (2.1/5), 9 p.m.’s “Nikki” (2.1/5) and 9:30’s “Grosse Pointe” (1.9/4). Latter laffer, which had been airing on Fridays, also logged a best-yet 1.3/3 in adults 18-49.

Saturday

Fox won the night in 18-49 with its best rating (4.3/13) since February, while CBS prevailed in total viewers (10.6 million) with its largest aud in four weeks.

The “Radio Music Awards,” airing for the first time on ABC, sent the net to its lowest in-season Saturday 18-49 rating (2.3/7) since April 1. Compared with its Thursday perf on the WB last season, though, kudocast was up a healthy 77% in the demo.

Friday

NBC put some distance between itself and CBS, winning the week by 2 shares in 18-49 and by nearly 1 million viewers. “Law & Order: SVU” tallied its best 18-49 rating (5.2/16) since Feb. 25, winning its hour by 4 shares.

A double-pump of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” produced the WB’s best-ever Friday ratings in total viewers (4.1 million) and persons 12-34 (2.1/8). At 8:30, a repeat “Sabrina” that previously aired on ABC came within 1 share of the Alphabet’s “Trouble With Normal” in adults 18-49 — despite the WB’s being available in just 84% of the country.

UPN dramas “Freedom” and “Level Nine” cooled from their strong week-earlier debuts, but their combined 1.1 rating in adults 18-49 and 2.57 million viewers is still about 20% better than the net’s averages last November.

Thursday

NBC delivered a dominant 12.1/31 in adults 18-49, up 8% vs. its opening November sweeps Thursday of a year ago. Only soft spot appears to be “Cursed” (9.7/25), which in its second week won by 13 shares but retained just 75% of its “Friends” lead-in (12.8/34) — down from the 77% hold for “Jesse” in the time period last year.

The WB saw growth with its Thursday dramas for a third straight week. Compared to the same week last year, “Gilmore Girls” improved the net’s ratings by 36% in adults 18-49 (to 1.5/4) and by 31% in adults 18-34 (to 1.7/5), while “Charmed” again out-rated “Millionaire” in adults 18-34 for a second straight week after losing by double-digit shares to the quizzer for most of last season.

“Surprise Wedding” scored Fox’s net’s best 18-49 and 18-34 Thursday ratings (except baseball) since January. Spec did best among women 18-34, where it logged a 4.6/11 and grew from a 2.6/7 at 8 p.m. to a 6.1/15 at 9:30.

Wednesday

Fox had a mixed performance with its premieres. Laffer “Normal, Ohio” (12.17m, 6.1/16 in A18-49) benefited from a huge “Simpsons” lead-in to win its slot in the demo, but 9 p.m. sudser “The Street” (7.26m, 3.7/9) finished third in 18-49 and fourth in viewers.

“The Simpsons” had a wacky, inexplicable effect on the young-female audience of its competition: CBS’ “Bette” declined week-to-week by 33% in women 18-34 but by just 2% in women 35-49, while NBC’s “Titans” was down in the same demos by 29% and 5%, respectively. ABC’s “Millionaire” was down a mere 7% in women 18-34 but up 40% in women 35-49.

UPN’s “Seven Days” drew its largest aud (3.83m) since last November and its best 18-49 rating (1.7/5) since November 1998.

Despite the addition of “The Street” to the mix, the WB’s “Felicity” delivered its best-ever rating among women 12-34 (4.3/12).

Tuesday

NBC won its second straight Tuesday in adults 18-49 as “Frasier” (18.62m, 8.5/21 in A18-49) topped its closest competitor in the demo (Fox’s “Dark Angel”) by 77%.

CBS won the night in viewers (13.2 million) for the first time since December, led by a dominant victory at 10 p.m. by “Judging Amy” (15.01m).

Monday

Fox’s “Boston Public” saw minimal week-to-week dropoffs on Oct. 30, winning its hour for a second straight week in adults 18-49 (5.8/15), adults 25-54 (6.0/14) and adults 18-34 (5.7/16).

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