ABC, Eye tie for week

Reality shows, 'Millionaire' top week's ratings

CBS and ABC topped the ratings leaderboard in a ho-hum week filled with awards shows, specials and repeats.

The nets tied for the lead in adults 18-49 for the week of March 5-11, according to Nielsen, but their demo averages (4.0/11) were the lowest by any winner this season. The Eye prevailed by a thin margin over the Alphabet in total viewers and also won in its target demo of adults 25-54.

“Survivor” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” drove the top-rated nets, as CBS’ reality adventure series was easily the No. 1 program of the week (28.72 million viewers, 12.1/31 in adults 18-49), while ABC was boosted by a season-high five airings of the quizzer. It’s the first time ABC has been on top in the demo in nine weeks.

CBS, whose “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” was No. 2 for the week (23.00 million, 8.9/22 in A18-49), won for the fifth time in seven weeks in total viewers and for the fourth time this season in adults 18-49 and 25-54. Net has drawn only mediocre marks for its three midseason shows, though, with Saturday’s “Kate Brasher” looking the strongest, but not a breakout hit.

Fox and NBC tied for third in adults 18-49 (3.8/10), each slipping to its lowest average since Christmas week. The former was dragged down by kudocasts (“The TV Guide Awards” on Wednesday, “The NAACP Image Awards” on Friday), the latter by repeats of its strongest shows and weak-performing miniseries.

Fox placed only three programs in the top 20 in adults 18-49 (all on Sunday), but “The Simpsons” ranked as the No. 1 comedy in both adults 18-49 (7.7/19) and 18-34 (9.2/25).

At the weblets, a strong Wednesday boosted UPN past the WB in total viewers and adults 18-49 for the first time in nine weeks. The Frog, though, joined CBS as the only nets up in key demos vs. the same week last season.

Monday

Crossover seg with “The Practice” on March 12 lifted ABC’s “Gideon’s Crossing” (13.59m, 5.2/14 in A18-49) to best-since-premiere ratings. It remains to be seen if “Gideon’s” — which shot up 68% week-to-week in the demo — can benefit from the stunt, though, as the series has but a few segs still to air this season and is considered a long shot to return next fall.

“Gideon’s,” combined with a fairly big aud for an original “Columbo” telepic (12.52m), gave ABC its first Monday win in viewers with its regular sked since “Monday Night Football” ended in December. Net was only third in 18-49, though, behind CBS and Fox.

Even an older-skewing “Columbo” pic topped the conclusion of NBC mini “The Lost Empire” by 30% in adults 18-49 (3.0/8 vs. 2.2/6). “Empire” finished with a 2.4/6 average in 18-49 — edging only CBS’ “Haven” (2.3/5) among this season’s two-parters — and is likely the lowest-rated NBC mini ever; in total viewers, its average (6.62m) easily makes it the least-watched mini this season, and “Empire” is likely the lowest-rated ever on a major net.

CBS drew more decent numbers from rookie laffer “Some of My Best Friends,” whose special 9:30 p.m. Monday outing retained 77% of its 18-49 lead-in from an “Everybody Loves Raymond” repeat (5.2/13 vs. 6.8/17) — slightly below the 82% that “Becker” last managed with an original episode following a “Raymond” repeat.

Sunday

The nets took a hit opposite high-profile cable shows like “The Sopranos” on HBO (8.37 million viewers), Discovery Channel’s “Land of the Mammoth” (5.09m) and TNT’s “SAG Awards” (3.44m). “Sopranos” was down 26% from its big premiere a week earlier (11.30m), while the “SAG Awards” were up 28% vs. last year for the cabler’s largest aud in four years of carrying the kudocast.

Roma Downey starrer “Second Honeymoon” delivered CBS’ best made-for numbers (12.86m, 4.1/10 in A18-49) since December, even though Downey’s “Touched by an Angel” wasn’t much help as a lead-in — it drew its smallest aud ever for a firstrun Sunday episode (12.30m). Eye’s “60 Minutes” (14.99m, 3.5/10) also was soft, drawing its smallest gathering (except for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) since November.

Pax’s two-hour series preem of “Doc” averaged 3.14 million viewers, a larger aud during the time period than either the WB’s comedies (2.89m) or UPN’s coverage of the XFL (1.64m). Show’s 2.0 homes rating is the best ever for a Pax program.

Fox won in 18-49 although “The Lone Gunmen” dropped 35% in adults 18-49 week-to-week (4.3 vs. 6.6).

The return of laffer “For Your Love” delivered the WB’s best Sunday 8:30 ratings of the season in adults 18-49 (1.6/4) and some female demos.

Saturday

Fox won by 4 shares in 18-49 with its best average (4.1/12) in six weeks.

The XFL on NBC (3.67m, 1.6/5 in A18-49), perhaps thanks to promos promising to take viewers inside the cheerleaders’ locker room at halftime, improved slightly week-to-week — its first upturn after four weeks of declines. Net stayed deep in fourth, though.

CBS’ “Kate Brasher” (9.92m, 2.7/7 in A18-49) won its hour in viewers for a third straight week, building modestly on lead-in “That’s Life” (8.59m, 2.4/7).

ABC felt the pain of 8 p.m. news spec “Stress Hurts” (5.13m, 1.8/5 in A18-49), which contributed to a third-place finish on the night.

Friday

College basketball preemptions crippled the nets in the leadoff hour. A puny 7.56 million viewers (“Diagnosis Murder” repeat) was enough to win at 8 p.m. and an average of 2.7/9 for firstrun segs of ABC comedies “Two Guys and a Girl” and “Norm” were enough for the 18-49 lead.

The WB’s “Popstars,” with an episode that featured the premiere of the first video from new group Eden’s Crush, won its time period in women 18-34 (2.3/8) for the first time.

ABC’s “Millionaire” won at 9 p.m. in 18-49 (3.7/11); that’s the same score that Fox’s since-canceled gamer “Greed” logged in the hour on the same night a year ago.

Fox’s “NAACP Image Awards” was up by 31% in adults 18-49 (to a 2.1/6) and by 27% in total viewers (to 4.57m) vs. a year ago, when it aired on a Thursday in April — although the net remained fourth on the night.

Thursday

“Survivor” fell from its Thursday high of a week earlier, but still dominated, helping CBS win in young-adult demos on an in-season Thursday with regular programming for the first time since at least 1987 (when such marks were first charted). “CSI” retained a best-yet 84% of its 25-54 lead-in from “Survivor” (11.4 vs. 13.6) and also hit a series high in adults 18-34 (6.8/19).

At 10, though, “Big Apple” saw its retention levels slip to a weak 43% in adults 18-49, 46% in adults 25-54 and 48% in total viewers. ABC’s “Primetime Thursday,” with a special report on kids and guns, moved up to second in the hour (12.70m, 4.4/12 in A18-49) behind a repeat of NBC’s “ER” (14.10m, 6.9/19).

Wednesday

With NBC’s dramas in repeat, ABC moved up to first in both 18-49 (5.1/14) and viewers (14.1m). A hyped episode that saw some of the lead characters taken hostage drove ABC’s “Once & Again” (9.47m, 4.7/13) to season highs, while the net’s “Millionaire” (21.23m, 5.6/16) was a winner in its last Wednesday outing.

Fox’s “TV Guide Awards” (8.08m, 3.5/9 in A18-49), in its third year, was up slightly vs. a year ago.

UPN had its best Wednesday (4.2m, 2.3/6 in A18-49, 1.9/6 in A18-34) since a two-hour “Star Trek: Voyager” on Nov. 29. “Seven Days” logged its best 18-34 rating (1.4/4) since November, while “Voyager,” building toward its May series finale, earned its best 18-49 rating (3.1/8) since November and highest 18-34 rating (2.4/7) since October.

CBS’ “Bette” drew its smallest aud ever (5.83m) in its last skedded airing.

Tuesday

Sandwiched between two “Frasier” episodes, new NBC comedy “The Fighting Fitzgeralds” (13.57m, 5.5/14 in A18-49) received solid sampling and helped the net win the night in 18-49.

ABC, with “Millionaire” back on the night, won in total viewers for the first time since January.

Monday

CBS captured March 5, boosted by a special 10 p.m. episode of “48 Hours” (12.70m, 4.6/12 in A18-49).

A “Parkers”/”Hughleys” slot swap juiced UPN by 45% over its season average in female teens (4.5 vs. 3.1).

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