Auds in NBC laffer’s favor; ‘Survivor’ in wings

TV tracking shows high numbers for webs

CBS’ “Survivor” will certainly have a major impact on Thursday’s leadoff hour when it returns this week, but NBC’s “Friends” has mega-momentum heading into its second battle with the reality juggernaut.

Soap opera-like storyline surrounding the paternity of pregnant Rachel’s baby is keeping “Friends” fans glued to their seats in the early going this season, according to Nielsen. Thursday’s episode delivered the largest audience ever for the comedy’s second episode of the season (30.04 million).

It was down just 5% in viewers and 7% in 18-49 from its monster premiere seg a week earlier, and up 26% in 18-49 and 32% in total viewers vs. its second episode last season.

As the second week of the season neared an end, ratings news continued to be bleak for most new shows, although the WB seemed to get solid traction on Friday with its new laffers.

Peacock goes 5-for-5

NBC again rolled on Thursday, with each of its five series again winning their timeslots in adults 18-49, led by “Friends” (14.7/41) and “ER” (13.5/33, down 8% from its premiere). Net topped second-place CBS by 18 shares in the demo and by more than 10 million viewers overall.

A pair of shows airing for the second time Thursday — NBC laffer “Inside Schwartz” and CBS drama “The Agency” — failed to improve upon their ho-hum opening ratings.

“Schwartz” (20.59m, 10.3/26) retained 70% of its “Friends” 18-49 lead-in (10.3 vs. 14.7), down from 72% a week earlier. It continues to rank as the season’s No. 1 new program, but doesn’t appear at this point to be the laffer to end the net’s frustrating post- “Friends” perfs at 8:30.

“The Agency” (8.95m, 3.2/8) held a weak 44% of its “CSI” lead-in among adults 18-49 and 45% in total viewers, down from 55% and 53% during premiere week. It finished second to “ER” by all measures, but again fell off sharply in its second half-hour.

CBS received another strong showing from “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which won at 9 in viewers (19.68m) and was second to NBC in most everything else. A “Countdown to Survivor” clips show did OK at 8 for CBS (9.95m, 3.3/9 in 18-49), picking up steam in the second half-hour; the third edition of “Survivor” begins Thursday.

The WB’s “Charmed,” featuring the debut of new cast member Rose McGowan, returned to action on Thursday with a two-hour episode that delivered the net’s second strongest ratings ever on the night (5.97m, 2.6/7 in 18-49). In its target demo of persons 12-34, the WB (3.3/9) defeated ABC, CBS and Fox.

‘Reba’ rakes in auds

The Frog net also got more good news on Friday, especially from Reba McIntire laffer “Reba,” whose 4.4/7 in metered-market overnights is the best ever for the Frog in Friday’s 9 o’clock half-hour. It won its time period in many key markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Less impressive but providing year-to-year growth in overnights were the premiere of comedies “Maybe It’s Me” at 8:30 and “Raising Dad” at 9:30, both of which delivered a 3.2/5.

NBC once again dominated a weak Friday overall, led by “Law & Order: SVU” at 10 (prelim 15.2m, 5.1/16 in 18-49).

ABC received more disappointing numbers for “The Mole” at 8 (prelim 5.8m, 2.2/7), while lead-out “Thieves” (prelim 7.5m, 2.6/8) cooled considerably in its second try, down 30% week-to-week in 18-49.

Also off week-to-week was CBS’ “Danny” (5.4m, 1.7/6), which held 77% of its “The Ellen Show” 18-49 lead-in (6.9m, 2.2/8), down from its premiere-week 96% retention.

Fox had a bit better news at 9 with “Pasadena” (prelim 4.9m, 2.1/7), which edged up slightly from its weak premiere.

ABC shows ‘Will’ power

On Saturday, ABC again won in adults 18-49 with a repeat theatrical, “Good Will Hunting” (prelim 6.9m, 3.0/9), which edged Fox’s reality series (2.8/9 in the demo).

CBS won the night in viewers but struggled again at 9 with new drama “Citizen Baines” (prelim 7.3m, 1.7/4), which placed fourth in key demos and was off 23% from its soft preem (1.7 vs. 2.2), even though lead-in “Touched by an Angel” was up 9% from its season preem (2.5 vs. 2.3).

“Angel” won its hour in viewers (prelim 9.3m) and adults 25-54 (3.2/9) while tying with Fox’s “Cops” and ABC’s movie in 18-49 (prelim 2.5/9). Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” and “Good Will Hunting” tied for the 18-49 lead at 9 (prelim 3.1/10).

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