Even TBS beats NBC as Jack trumps '10th Kingdom'

HOLLYWOOD — Over in Burbank, they’re hoping this is as bad as it gets.

NBC last week sank to an historic low in the ratings, capped by an anemic Sunday perf that saw the Peacock fall well behind cabler TBS’ premiere of “As Good as It Gets,” which has become the highest-rated movie in basic cable history.

According to Nielsen, NBC’s 4.4 rating and 8 share in homes is its lowest ever. Net, saddled with eight hours of mini repeat “The Tenth Kingdom,” also posted its lowest Friday (3.4/7) and Sunday (2.5/4) on record and its weakest Saturday with entertainment programming (2.7/6).

NBC also slipped to fourth in adults 18-49 — apparently for the first time ever — and finished just ahead of fifth-place UPN in 18-34 (1.9/7 vs. 1.6/6).

On Sunday, when NBC aired the final four hours of “Kingdom,” the net was soundly defeated from 8-11 p.m. by TBS’ “As Good as It Gets” (7.99 million viewers to 4.69). The 1997 Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt starrer averaged 5.41 million households, edging past last August’s TBS original “First Daughter” (5.31 million) as basic cable’s top-rated movie; it also tops last November’s TBS airing of “The Wizard of Oz” (5.06 million) as basic cable’s No. 1 theatrical.

“Oz,” by virtue of its strength among kids, still ranks as the most-watched movie in basic cable history (9.05 million viewers).

As for NBC, it could have been worse, but the net aired the fewest hours of the Republican convention among the Big Three (3-1/2 hours). Also, “Kingdom” was trimmed from the 10-hour original version that aired less than six months ago, limiting its damage to one week in the ratings.

ABC won the week in both total viewers (9.28 million) and adults 18-49 (3.1/10), edging past CBS (3.0/10) in the latter. Both nets withstood low-rated convention coverage to post demo gains compared with a year ago.

Happy median

The nets were also very close by another audience measuring stick, with CBS and ABC each posting weekly median ages of 47.9 and NBC with 46.1. The Eye had been gaining ground on the youth front this summer with “Survivor” and the multinight “Big Brother,” but this is the first time — apparently ever — that it has caught one of its rivals.

“Survivor” hit a new high in total viewers (27.41 million) and also topped the week’s list of programs in all demos, including adults 18-49 (11.9/38), adults 25-54 (12.5/36) and adults 18-34 (10.8/38). It’s been the week’s No. 1 program in both viewers and the prime advertiser demo of 18-49 for six straight weeks.

Wednesday’s “Big Brother” delivered the show’s best numbers (17.44 million, 8.4/24 in A18-49) since its July 5 bow and ranked second for the week in adults 18-49. But without antagonistic houseguest Jordan, who was banished Wednesday, the series then slipped to its lowest Thursday, Friday and Saturday marks to date.

ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” finished the week second, third and fourth in total viewers and third, fourth and 10th in adults 18-49.

Net results

Broadcast nets’ adults 18-49 averages for July 31-Aug. 6: ABC, a 3.1 rating/10 share (up 11% in rating vs. a year ago); CBS, 3.0/10 (up 20%); Fox, 2.6/8 (down 7%); NBC, 2.4/8 (down 25%); UPN, 1.4/5 (up 40%); The WB, 1.1/3 (down 8%); Pax, 0.4/1 (up 33%).

In homes: ABC, 6.4/12 (up 19%); CBS, 6.0/11 (down 10%); NBC, 4.4/8 (down 24%); Fox, 3.9/7 (down 2%); UPN, 2.2/4 (up 29%); The WB, 1.8/3 (down 22%); Pax, 1.0/2 (even).

Adults 18-49 averages for the top cable services: TBS, 1.2/4 (up 33%); HBO, 1.0/3 (down 17%), tied with USA, 1.0/3 (even); Discovery, 0.6/2 (up 20%), tied with TNT, 0.6/2 (down 14%) and Lifetime, 0.6/2 (even).

Monday

NBC won its third Monday in the last four weeks in adults 18-49 on Aug. 7 behind the best numbers of the summer for a special “West Wing” (3.6/10). Its “Mysterious Ways,” though, posted its weakest ratings in three tries (7.20 million, 3.1/10 in A18-49), making it less likely that the Pax series won’t play as an NBC regular after its Peacock run ends Aug. 28.

ABC won in total viewers with a repeat of the “Columbo” pic “Ashes to Ashes” (10.15 million) and news spec “Vanished” (10.95 million). Latter combined with “West Wing” to lay the hammer down on CBS’ “Family Law” (6.37 million, 2.0/6).

Sunday

In addition to topping NBC in viewers, TBS’ “As Good as It Gets” also ranked as the No. 1 program among all nets in its time period in women 18-34 (4.2 national rating). TBS placed second only to ABC among all nets in adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.

“As Good” had a strong lead-in courtesy of “Pretty Woman,” which played in 4.85 million households for its strongest cable delivery to date.

NBC’s “Kingdom” at least finished strong, with the final half-hour averaging 6.64 million viewers and a 2.7/8 in adults 18-49 — the best numbers during its eight-hour run.

ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney” pic (a repeat of “Jungle Book”) was the only network program to step up opposite “As Good as It Gets,” delivering its largest aud (9.18 million) and best 18-49 score (3.0/9) in eight weeks.

Saturday

NBC slipped to its lowest Saturday homes rating with entertainment programming (2.7/6) but still pulled to within 1 share of third-place CBS in adults 18-49 (1.6/6 vs. 1.9/7).

Fox continued its winning Saturday ways in both viewers (6.85 million) and adults 18-49 (2.7/11), led once again by “America’s Most Wanted” (7.74 million, 3.0/11 in A18-49).

Friday

With more weak “Tenth Kingdom” numbers (3.30 million, 1.3/5 in A18-49) and a slew of preemptions on ABC, CBS and Fox, the six nets combined for a feeble 34 share in adults 18-49, down from 43 a week earlier.

ABC’s music reality series “Making the Band,” which has been up and down in the ratings, was back up again, winning its 9:30 half-hour by 2 shares in 18-49 (2.6/10) and 18-34 (2.7/12) despite clearance in just 95% of the country.

In the 8 p.m. battle of firstrun series with alliterative titles, Fox’s “Beyond Belief” and CBS’ “Big Brother” tied with a 2.4/10, with the WB’s “Baby Blues” (1.1/5) maintaining its preem 18-49 rating of a week ago but gaining 1 share point. “Brother” topped “Belief” in viewers (6.34 million vs. 5.85) but slipped to its smallest Friday audience to date.

Thursday

ABC won the battle of convention coverage thanks to a big lead-in from “Millionaire” (18.12 million). The net’s 7.61 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. topped NBC’s 9:30-11 p.m. average (6.10 million) and CBS’ two-hour score (4.27). Combined, the three nets’ 13.1/24 homes rating is just a bit behind the 13.4/24 for the GOP gathering’s final night in 1996.

“WWF Smackdown” helped UPN score the first nightly victory in adults 18-34 in the netlet’s 5-1/2-year history (Daily Variety, Aug. 7).

Wednesday

“Survivor” for the first time hit a 30 share in homes (16.7 rating) and a 40 share in one of the key demos (12.8/41 in women 18-34). Skein’s 10th seg also hit a new highs in teens (7.1/28) and kids (5.9/23).

Fox’s “American High” (4.24 million, 1.8/5 in A18-49) didn’t have much of a chance bowing opposite CBS’ likewise reality-based “Big Brother.” It did best in teens, pulling to within 3 shares of “Brother” with its 9:30 seg.

CBS took advantage of its “Big Brother” lead-in to win the 10 p.m. convention coverage battle among adults 18-49 (1.8), edging NBC (1.7). The Peacock won in viewers (5.04 million), edging the Eye (5.02).

Tuesday

ABC won the night by 5 shares in homes and by 1 share in adults 18-49 behind “Millionaire.” The quizzer again took off in its 8:30 half-hour, winning by 13 shares in 18-49 after taking its first half-hour by 3 shares.

At 9 p.m., ABC’s “Dharma & Greg” (4.0/12) maintained its week-earlier 1-share advantage over NBC’s “Frasier” (3.7/11), with Fox’s “Family Guy” a respectable 3 shares back (3.1/10). In adults 18-34, “Family” pulled into second (3.5/12), 1 share behind “Dharma” (3.9/13).

Monday

ABC won the night in viewers (11.29 million) and adults 18-49 (3.7/11) despite the lowest-rated “Monday Night Football” opener on record (7.3/12) in homes (Daily Variety, Aug. 2).

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