'Survivor,' 'Brother' push Eye to projected demo victory

HOLLYWOOD — This isn’t your grandmother’s CBS.

The Eye network’s summer dip into the fountain of youth has its research department scouring through years of records to find the last time it pulled off a demo feat like last week’s.

With “Survivor” establishing record highs across the board and “Big Brother” off to a solid start in its first week, CBS is projected to win the week of July 3-9 in the key advertiser demo of adults 18-49 — its first victory in that measure without Olympics help since March 1994.

Nielsen won’t make it official until today, but the network will take the frame with a projected 3.4 rating, comfortably ahead of both ABC and NBC (3.0). The Eye essentially won the week Wednesday as best-yet numbers for “Survivor” and a strong launch for “Big Brother” provided an unassailable cushion.

“Brother” is off to a stout start with its stand-alone segs as well, injecting signs of life into timeslots that have been demo graveyards for CBS in recent years (Daily Variety, July 10). These early numbers, which figure to improve as weeks go on and the series settles into its regular weekly pattern, suggest that CBS will be very competitive in the demo all summer.

The net’s success in primetime is apparently translating into daytime as well. For the week of June 26-30, CBS ranked as the outright women 18-49 winner in daytime dramas — something it hasn’t done since January 1996.

While CBS has long been the dominant daytime network in viewers, its dramas have consistently been a step behind the Alphabet’s in the key women 18-49 category. But with “Survivor” helping it gain circulation among a younger audience, the soaps are reaping the demo dividends.

According to Nielsen, the Eye’s daytime drama lineup averaged a 2.6/17, edging ABC (2.5/16), which had won on or tied each week for the last 4-1/2 years.

In primetime, “Survivor” had lifted CBS into a competitive third place in adults 18-49 for the last three weeks, but the emergence of “Big Brother” proved the difference in getting the net into the winner’s circle. The Eye last won a week in adults 18-49 during the Winter Olympics in February 1998; but prior to that, you’d have to go back to the week ending March 6, 1994 — and even that week was something of an aberration as it followed two-plus weeks of the net’s Winter Olympics coverage and also included the highly rated Grammy Awards, which had been pushed back a week by the Olympics.

CBS has been such an also-ran in the 18-49 demo, in fact, that it had placed as high as second only once in the last year.

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