Reality series drives younger demos to Peacock

HOLLYWOOD — NBC continued its dominant summer last week, racking up its 16th straight victory in young adults behind best-yet scores for reality series “Fear Factor.”

The Peacock, the only network to improve upon its perf vs. the same week a year ago, won five nights in adults 18-49 and claimed the week’s top six programs, according to Nielsen Media Research for July 30-Aug. 5.

“Fear Factor,” which hit new highs with its final original summer seg, was the week’s top draw in total viewers (15.41 million), adults 18-49 (7.1/22) and adults 18-34 (7.9/26). These are the best scores for any series on any net since the end of May sweeps.

Net’s sweep of the top six shows in adults 18-49 included “Weakest Link” at No. 2 (5.8/16), followed by Monday’s “Dateline” (4.8/13), Sunday’s “Fear Factor” repeat (4.5/12) and Thursday comedies “Will & Grace” (4.2/13) and “Friends” (4.1/15).

NBC also topped the week in adults 18-34 (its 12th straight win), adults 25-54 (13th straight) and in total viewers.

ABC moved up to second in both adults 18-49 and total viewers, grabbing its second largest aud of the summer. Tuesday’s “Dharma & Greg” led the way, collecting its strongest score in seven weeks (3.9/12).

Fox’s struggles continued, as Tuesday’s “Murder in Smalltown X” fell sharply in its second week and kept the net third in adults 18-49 for the week.

CBS fell to fourth in adults 18-49 and third in total viewers, despite the best week yet in key demos for “Big Brother 2.” Series won five of its six half-hours in adults 18-49, but the Eye’s other programming captured only three of 38 half-hours.

UPN smiled at the return of wrestler the Rock, as Thursday’s “WWF Smackdown” pinned its best numbers since last winter and improved upon its summer averages by about 25%. Net couldn’t carry the momentum over to Friday, though, as reality skein “Manhunt” struggled in its premiere.

The WB, meanwhile, fell to its smallest weekly aud of the summer.

Monday

NBC rolled once again on Aug. 7 behind a best-of episode of “Fear Factor” (9.86m, 4.6/15 in A18-49), which finished well below the skein’s recent firstrun scores but still dominated its hour. That led into the lowest 18-49 Monday score of the summer for “Weakest Link” (4.5/13), which also still won its hour.

ABC’s preseason “Monday Night Football” game between St. Louis and Miami (8.98m, 3.8/11 in A18-49) fell 17% behind last year’s opener in the demo and dipped to the smallest overall aud ever for a preseason opener. Net still won the night in all male demos.

Sunday

NBC squeaked past Fox to win in adults 18-49 with another all-repeat lineup of its unscripted series “Spy TV,” “Fear Factor” and “Weakest Link.” Net won the night’s final five half-hours in the demo, led by the 9 o’clock “Fear Factor” (4.5/12).

CBS won in total viewers, with “60 Minutes” ranking as the night’s most-watched program (11.65m).

Preem of cabler TNT’s “James Dean” biopic (3.18m) attracted less than half the aud of the net’s “Mists of Avalon” three weeks earlier (6.92m).

Saturday

A repeat of 21-year-old pic “Caddyshack” gave NBC its second best 18-49 score for a Saturday pic in three months (2.8/10), edging Fox for the night. Fox won in viewers, led by “America’s Most Wanted” (7 million).

CBS’ “Big Brother 2″ won its hour in 18-49 (2.4/10) and 18-34 (2.5/12) for a second straight week, setting a Saturday high in the latter.

Friday

For the first time in three matchups, ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (7.26m, 2.4/10 in A18-49) fell behind Fox’s “Police Videos” (6.01m, 2.8/12) in key demos, although the Alphabet entry won in total viewers.

CBS’ “That’s Life” (4.11m, 1.3/5 in A18-49) is looking shaky in its new slot, placing fourth in demos and total viewers, falling behind Fox’s “Dark Angel” in the latter (4.20m).

UPN’s reality adventure series “Manhunt” bowed meekly (1.51m, 0.8/3 in 18-49), merely tying the WB’s repeats of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” in the demo.

Thursday

NBC won for a 13th straight week in 18-49 (3.8/12), although CBS was on its tail (3.6/12) and moved ahead in adults 25-54 and total viewers. After “Friends” topped “Big Brother” at 8 in 18-49 (4.1/15 vs. 3.4/12), “Brother” took NBC’s “Spy TV” by a best-yet 2 shares at 8:30 (4.0/13 vs. 3.4/11).

NBC and UPN tied for the lead in adults 18-34 (4.0), with the latter’s “WWF Smackdown” grabbing its best mark since December and ranking as the top show from 8 to 10 in men 18-34 (5.0/19), men 25-54 (3.4/11) and teens (5.0/20). “Smackdown” also hit eight-month highs in women 18-49 (2.5/8) and 25-54 (2.3/6).

Wednesday

ABC won the night in adults 18-49 for a second straight week, boosted by the Wednesday preem of newsmag “20/20 Downtown” (3.6/11), which placed a close second to “Law & Order” at 10 (3.8/11). CBS edged out NBC in total viewers, as “60 Minutes II” won its hour (8.43m) for a third straight week.

The WB drew its largest aud on the night since May (2.16m) with movie “Spawn.”

Tuesday

“Big Brother” hit several Tuesday highs, including the best adults 18-34 rating in the hour for CBS (4.2/15) since last December (“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”) and the biggest women 18-34 rating for any “Big Brother” installment this summer (5.7/19). It won its hour in adults 18-49 (3.7/13), 25-54 (3.8/12) and 18-34.

NBC stole a victory in 18-49 when “Dateline” (3.7/11) won at 10 by 5 shares. ABC took total viewers, led by “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (11.92m), and was a close second in 18-49, behind winners “Dharma & Greg” (3.9/12) and “Spin City” (3.3/10), which moved into its new slot.

Fox’s “Murder in Smalltown X” (6.02m, 2.8/9 in A18-49) fell by 20% in the demo vs. its week-earlier preem (3.5/10), falling into a second-place tie with NBC’s comedies. It did win its soft hour in adults 18-34 (3.4/11), down 11% week-to-week.

Also in its second week, NBC’s “Downer Channel” was a distant fourth in 18-49, down 28% (2.1/7 vs. 2.9/9).

Monday

“Fear Factor” hit another high on July 30, winning by 13 shares in adults 18-49 and by 17 shares in 18-34.

ABC’s “Battle at Bighorn” golf -cast (8.60m, 2.8/9 in 18-49) fell 18% behind last year’s event, hurt in part by its four-hour-plus length.

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