HOLLYWOOD — NBC returned to the top of the demo charts last week thanks to strong midweek perfs, while ABC made it four straight weeks as the country’s most-watched net overall.
The Aug. 27-Sept. 2 frame was also a great one for UPN, which rode strong scores from its Monday comedies, Tuesday’s “Source Hip-Hop Music Awards” and Thursday’s “WWF Smackdown” to its first weekly win among teens in at least one year. Net also grabbed its largest weekly aud and 18-49 rating since May, while tying CBS for fourth in adults 18-34.
NBC’s 19th victory in 20 weeks in the key demo of adults 18-49 was powered by its Thursday comedies “Friends” and “Will & Grace,” which claimed the week’s top three slots in adults 18-49, as well as Tuesday’s “Dateline,” which grabbed its best demo score (4.4/13) since March and tied for fifth in the week with the net’s Wednesday mainstay “Law & Order.”
ABC remained on top in total viewers behind Tuesday’s original episode of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which was No. 1 for the week (13.63 million), and the most-watched Monday NFL preseason game in two years (11.54m for Raiders-Cowboys). Net also was a close second in 18-49 while winning the frame in men 18-49 and men 25-54.
CBS was second in viewers but slipped to fourth in 18-49 despite claiming five of the week’s top 12 shows. Net’s “Big Brother 2,” building toward a Sept. 20 finale, drew its two largest audiences of the summer last week and finished in the week’s top 10 among adults 18-49 for the first time.
The reality series now has won 23 of its 28 half-hours in the key demo after winning only five of its first 20.
Fox was third in 18-49, winning Saturday and Sunday, and tied with NBC for the lead in 18-34. Last season’s winner in 18-34, net has now won two straight weeks in the demo after going winless since mid-May.
The WB, boosted by Wednesday movie “Stand by Me,” earned its best weekly 18-49 rating since early June.
Fox won a sluggish pre-holiday night in adults 18-49 (2.8/10), led by comedies “The Simpsons” (3.7/14) and “Malcolm in the Middle” (3.3/11).
CBS, which won in viewers, got good mileage out of repeat made-for “Miracle in the Woods,” which was the night’s most-watched show (10.07m) despite just 93% clearance due to the MDA telethon. ABC, meanwhile, struggled with its movie, a repeat of “A Very Brady Sequel,” which settled for the net’s smallest Sunday pic crowd this summer (4.40m).
NBC’s “Dateline” topped a repeat “60 Minutes” on CBS in all key demos, including 18-49 (1.9/8 vs. 1.5/6). The Peacock then struggled at 8 with a repeat of “Weakest Link” (1.9/7 in 18-49), which aired in its new timeslot for the first time, but won at 10 with a repeat of “Fear Factor” (3.1/9).
Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” bowed to strong numbers in its 15th season preem, winning its hour by a healthy 5 shares in adults 18-49 with its best score (3.5/12) since April. Net won the night by all key measures.
ABC had a tough time gathering college football fans for an early-season holiday contest. Split regional action (Miami-Penn State and Wisconsin-Oregon) left the net fourth in both viewers (5.24m) and 18-49 (1.7/7).
Low clearances due to sports and other holiday preemptions sent the nets to pathetically low averages. CBS, for example, drew a mere 4.6 million viewers — its smallest gathering on any night in at least two seasons and likely ever — with a repeat “That’s Life” ranking last for the week among all shows on the major nets (3.58m).
ABC easily took the night in adults 18-49 (2.8/10) and total viewers (9.8 million), with the leadoff hour’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (8.26m, 2.5/10 in A18-49) grabbing its largest audience in seven tries this summer. Night’s top draw in 18-49, though, was NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” (3.2/11), which edged a firstrun “20/20” on ABC (3.1/11).
A special 8:30 seg of “Friends” nabbed the best 18-49 rating for any show last week (5.5/17), pacing NBC’s 17th straight demo victory on the night.
In addition to delivering the largest aud for any edition this summer (10.26 million), CBS’ “Big Brother 2” also hit new ratings highs in adults 18-49 (4.4/12), men 18-49 (4.0/12) and adults 25-54 (4.9/12). Net also won the battle of repeat dramas at 10, as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (10.15m, 4.0/12) topped NBC’s “ER” (8.30m, 3.9/11).
“Millionaire” (12.22m) helped ABC win the night in total viewers, although the quizzer ran third for the hour in 18-49 (3.0/8), down 37% from the same night a year ago.
With “West Wing” hitting a summer high (3.6/10), NBC edged out ABC in 18-49 while also winning easily in total viewers.
The younger nets shined, as Fox’s comedies delivered their best Wednesday 18-49 score of the summer (2.9/9), UPN’s “Special Unit 2” collected its best rating in four tries this summer (1.3/4) in its fall timeslot, and “Stand by Me” produced the WB’s best Wednesday score (1.5/5) since May.
ABC easily won in viewers for the 25th time in the last 26 Tuesdays, boosted by “Millionaire” and the largest aud for a repeat of “NYPD Blue” (7.72m) since July 2000.
Net’s “Spin City” attracted its largest aud of the summer (8.61m). It also built on its “Dharma & Greg” lead-in by 16% in adults 18-49 (3.6/10 vs. 3.1/9), while NBC’s “Three Sisters” lost 11% of its lead-in from “Frasier” in the same timeslot (3.2/8 vs. 3.6/10).
“Hip-Hop Awards” earned UPN’s best Tuesday 18-49 rating (2.3/7) since October 1996 and tied its best score ever on the night in 18-34 (3.1/10).
CBS’ “Big Brother 2” (9.75m, 4.3/12 in A18-49) and NBC’s “Dateline” (10.75m, 4.4/13) won the final two hours.
ABC dominated Aug. 27 behind a preseason “Monday Night Football” game (Daily Variety, Aug. 29).