Thurs. sked helps Peacock to early sweeps lead

Powerhouse Nielsens from its Thursday vets, a sweep of Friday’s half-hours and a solid debut for sci-fi drama “The Others” have lifted NBC to the early lead in the February sweeps.

Based on Thursday ratings and prelims for Friday and Saturday, the Peacock web enjoys roughly a 2.2 ratings-point edge in households and a 1.8 point advantage in adults 18-49 through the first three days of the four-week sweeps period.

ABC ranks second in both categories thanks to strong Thursday numbers for a certain gameshow and solid weekend Nielsens for a pair of previously aired theatricals.

“The Others,” a DreamWorks production in association with NBC Studios, bowed with a prelim 7.4 rating, 14 share, in households and a 5.1/15 in adults 18-49, good enough for second in both categories at 10 p.m. The drama built on its lead-in, the second hour of a “Pretender”-”Profiler” crossover (prelim 7.1/12 in households, 4.7/14 in adults 18-49).

And while ratings for “Others” were not spectacular, in coming weeks the series doesn’t figure to face competition for its target male audience as formidable as it did this past weekend. ABC’s three-hour rebroadcast of “The Rock” gained viewers with each half-hour Saturday and scored an estimated 5.8/17 rating in adults 18-49 for the 10 p.m. hour.

Based on Saturday prelims, NBC appears to have edged ABC in adults 18-49 while the reverse order looks likely in homes and total viewers.

On Thursday, “Friends” (24.13 million viewers, 12.2 rating/34 share in adults 18-49) rolled to its highest 18-49 score since November, leading NBC to an easy victory for the night. At 9 p.m., “Frasier” again topped ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in their head-to-head battle, although “Millionaire” moved comfortably ahead in the 9:30 p.m. half hour, opposite NBC’s “Stark Raving Mad.”

With help from “Millionaire” and second-place finishes from 8-9 p.m. for a pair of episodes of “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” ABC (17.7 million, 6.6/17 in adults 18-49) took second for the night. It’s the Alphabet’s best start to February sweeps since 1988, when it aired the theatrical “Firefox.”

Fox continues to struggle with its theatricals, as Thursday’s broadcast premiere of “Dumb and Dumber” (6.31 million, 2.4 in adults 18-49) failed to make the grade, dropping the net to an embarrassing fifth place for the night in adults 18-49, behind CBS (3.0) and even wrestling-led UPN (2.5).

At 9 p.m., the WB’s “Charmed” set a series record among female teens (9.1/25).

On Friday, NBC took all six half-hours in homes and five of the six in adults 18-49. For the night, the Peacock averaged 14.6 million viewers and a 4.9/15 in adults 18-49 — gains of 17% and 14%, respectively, over the net’s first Friday showing of the February 1999 sweeps.

“Providence” and the ever-improving “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” easily won their hours in adults 18-49. At 9 p.m., ABC’s rebroadcast of “Flubber” edged past NBC’s “Dateline” (4.3 to 4.2).

ABC placed second in Friday’s prelim adults 18-49, edging Fox (4.0 to 3.9).

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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