Thursday, Friday lineups help NBC beat big 'Millionaire' week

If it’s sweeps time, the Peacock is pumped.

NBC, vulnerable in the ratings when its heavyweight series are in reruns, has shown just how potent a sweeps player it can be. Freshly stocked with originals of its big guns, the net opened the May period last week with a pair of convincing nightly victories and has put an end to ABC’s nine-week winning streak in adults 18-49.

A strong Thursday and Friday was enough to lead the Peacock in the key advertiser demo for the week of April 24-30 — its first victory since the February sweeps. ABC and NBC tied in homes, while the Alphabet web edged ahead in total viewers for its 18th straight weekly victory by that measure.

The competitive nature of the season’s 32nd week points to what a close battle the May sweeps figures to be in adults 18-49. ABC is looking to make it a clean sweep of this season’s ratings periods after winning in November and February. It has never won all three demo crowns in the same season and last won all three in total viewers/households in the 1978-79 season.

NBC, meanwhile, is looking to win its sixth straight May in adults 18-49.

On Monday of this week, the celebrity version of “Millionaire” drew its largest aud yet and has helped pull ABC closer to NBC in young adults after five nights of the 28-day sweeps period (5.3 vs. 5.1). Compared with a year ago, though, the Alphabet is up 24% by that measure, while NBC is down by the same percentage. ABC has moved ahead in total viewers (14.6 million vs. 12.1).

Last week, the Peacock placed the top three shows in the demo: “ER” (13.1/34), “Friends” (10.8/32) and “Frasier” (10.4/27). The net’s other Thursday programs, a special “Just Shoot Me” and a “Frasier” repeat, placed fourth and fifth.

For the first time since it became a thrice-weekly series regular in January, then, ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” does not rank among the top five weekly programs in 18-49: Its Tuesday and Thursday editions ranked sixth and seventh.

In total viewers, last week’s top programs were “ER” (27.38 million), Tuesday’s “Millionaire” (25.73) and Thursday’s “Millionaire” (23.99).

In adults 18-49, the five-day sweeps averages are: NBC, a 5.3 rating/15 share (down 24% in rating vs. a year ago); ABC, 5.1/15 (up 24%); Fox, 4.3/12 (down 2%); CBS, 3.1/9 (down 9%).

Adults 18-49 averages for the week of April 24-30: ABC, 5.0/14 (up 19%); NBC, 5.2/15 (down 9%); Fox, 3.8/11 (down 17%); CBS, 3.1/10 (down 6%); UPN, 1.6/5 (up 23%); the WB, 1.4/4 (down 12%); and Pax, 0.3/1 (even).

In homes, it’s: ABC, 8.9/15 (up 25%), tied with NBC, 8.9/15 (down 6%); CBS, 7.7/13 (down 5%); Fox, 5.4/9 (down 14%); UPN, 2.7/5 (up 17%); the WB, 2.6/4 (down 13%); and Pax, 0.9/1 (up 12%).

Adults 18-49 averages for the nation’s top cable services: USA, 1.0/3 (up 11%); TNT, 0.9/3 (up 29%), tied with HBO, 0.9/3 (down 25%); TBS, 0.8/3 (up 14%); Lifetime 0.6/2 (up 20%).

Sunday

ABC’s “Millionaire” (19.28 million, 5.5/19 in A18-49) was the night’s most-watched show despite airing in the 7 p.m. hour. That was followed by part one of the net’s “Arabian Nights,” which drew the best adults 18-49 score of the night among the three network pics (6.4/16).

Without competition from “Millionaire,” pics on CBS and NBC both did well. “Take Me Home: The John Denver Story” (16.73 million) drew the Eye net’s largest aud for a single-part Sunday pic since Jan. 2 (“Beyond the Prairie”) while the Peacock’s “The ‘70s” mini opened with the net’s best adults 18-49 rating for a Sunday pic (6.2/15) since Nov. 28 (“Men in Black”).

“The ‘70s” topped “Arabian” by 4 shares in adults 18-34, while “Arabian” won by 3 shares among teens and by 9 shares among kids.

Part one of Pax’s mini “Solomon” drew a 1.0/2 rating in homes.

Saturday

Fox won a routine Saturday in adults 18-49 (3.8), while CBS edged Fox in total viewers (8.97 million to 8.86).

Four series — CBS’ “Martial Law” and “Walker, Texas Ranger” and NBC’s “Pretender” and “The Others” — matched or fell to their lowest homes rating to date for a firstrun episode.

Friday

NBC easily took the night, winning each half-hour in viewers and demos. The net has now won eight of the last nine weeks in which dramas “Providence” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” have aired originals. “Special Victims Unit” (12.84 million, 4.5/14 in A18-49) drew its best numbers since Feb. 25 and was the top show of the night in the key demo.

CBS’ Bill Cosby-hosted “Kids Say the Darndest Things” drew its largest audience since March 3 (8.53 million), leading into the series finale of the comedian’s laffer, “Cosby” (7.52 million), which played to its largest aud since Jan. 28.

Spec “WWF’s Greatest Hits Too” (2.92 million, 1.0/4 in A18-49) failed to pin down many of UPN’s wrestling viewers, falling below viewing levels for the netlet’s movie “Alien Fury” one week earlier.

Thursday

NBC vets “Friends,” “Frasier” and “ER” boosted the net to its biggest margins of victory over ABC on a Thursday (6.9 million viewers, 5.7 ratings points in adults 18-49) since Feb. 17.

The key 9 p.m. demo faceoff went to NBC in a big way as “Frasier” topped “Millionaire” by a best-yet 60% in adults 18-49 (10.4 vs. 6.5). The quizzer’s 18 share in the demo was its lowest for any regularly skedded seg this season. Compared with the first night of the February sweeps, “Frasier” was up 8% in the demo (10.4 vs. 9.6) while “Millionaire” was devalued by 38% (9.0 vs. 6.5.).

A visit by wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin boosted UPN’s “WWF Smackdown!” to its largest aud yet (8.70 million). The series scored an amazing 38 share among male teens and also posted all-time Thursday highs for the netlet in women 18-34 (3.1/9) and women 18-49 (2.5/6).

Wednesday

Key to NBC’s weekly demo victory was its biggest win on a Wednesday since Jan. 26. The Peacock topped ABC in young adults (5.2 vs. 4.6) behind the second best score from “Law & Order” (7.2) in the last 11 weeks.

Fox’s “Beverly Hills, 90210” (7.74 million, 4.2/14), which ends its 10-season run this month, delivered its largest aud since Feb. 16 and won its hour outright in adults 18-49 for the first time this season.

The WB’s “Dawson’s Creek” topped all series for the week among female teens (6.8/23), the first time since November that it’s earned that distinction.

Tuesday

CBS drama “JAG” (12.67 million, 3.7/11) fell to its lowest numbers for a firstrun episode this season. At 9 p.m., though, the Eye’s “60 Minutes II” (12.70 million) ticked to its best adults 18-49 rating (3.6/9) since Jan. 11.

A special 9 p.m. “Greed” (2.8/7 in A18-49) topped the last five adults 18-49 scores for previous Fox slot occupant “Party of Five.”

A repeat of NBC’s “Will & Grace” overcame a substantial lead-in disadvantage to top a repeat of ABC’s “Dharma & Greg” by 1 share in adults 18-49. “Will” also is the clear choice among viewers 18-34, winning the half-hour by 5 shares over “Dharma” and ranking as the top program of the night in the demo.

“Dateline” (12.16 million, 5.5/14 in A18-49) drew its best young adults score since Feb. 22 (6.7) and matched “NYPD Blue” in the demo for the first time since Feb. 8.

Monday

ABC original pic “The Three Stooges” (16.53 million, 7.0 in A18-49) won each half-hour on April 24 in both viewers and adults 18-49 and combined with the season finale of “Once and Again” (11.31 million, 5.3/14) to give the net its easiest Monday victory since Feb. 28 (“Millionaire,” “Beach Boys, Part II”).

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