A big premiere for “Boot Camp” proved the difference for Fox last week as the net moved past a crowded pack to win primetime’s key demo race.
According to estimates by Nielsen Media Research, Fox placed first in adults 18-49 for the week of March 26-April 1 despite placing only one program — Wednesday’s “Boot Camp” premiere (7.9/19) — among the week’s top 10. Also key to the net’s third weekly victory of the season were stellar bookend perfs from its strong Monday and Sunday lineups.
Fox, which also captured the week in adults 18-34 and teens, pulled closer to season-to-date leader NBC in adults 18-49. Although NBC — which will soon lose ratings laggard XFL — remains the favorite to finish on top, Fox and ABC are just two ticks behind with seven weeks to go in the season.
ABC, which had strong comedy premieres last week from Tuesday’s “What About Joan” and Wednesday’s “My Wife and Kids,” eked past CBS in total viewers but slipped into a third-place tie with NBC in adults 18-49 and fourth in adults 18-34. The Alphabet, whose comedies and a new rendition of “South Pacific” fared especially well with femmes, won the week in women 18-49 but was fourth in men 18-49.
CBS placed first in its target demo of adults 25-54 for the fifth time this season, boosted by Thursday’s “Survivor” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and some of the best demos in three years for college basketball on Saturday. “Survivor” was again the week’s most-watched program (28.12m), as it has been for all eight weeks it has aired original episodes since its premiere.
Over at NBC, they’re counting the weeks until the XFL exits its sked. Last week, even an all-original Thursday lineup couldn’t compensate for continued anemic football ratings on Saturday; net finished third in both total viewers and adults 18-49.
UPN, with strong showings from its Tuesday movie and Thursday’s “WWF Smackdown,” again topped the WB in total viewers, adults 18-49 and teens. Another rerun-heavy sked left the Frog with its second smallest weekly audience of the season (2.96 million), behind only Christmas week.
The start of Daylight Savings Time resulted in a quiet night for the nets, with ABC winning in total viewers and Fox in adults 18-49 despite subpar numbers.
At ABC, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” drew its smallest-ever Sunday aud for a firstrun 9 p.m. episode (17.84m), and “The Practice” posted its lowest firstrun scores (17.89m, 6.5/16 in A18-49) since Nov. 5. Other lowlights included Fox’s firstrun comedies dropping to their lowest average since last May (5.0/14) and CBS’ “60 Minutes” hitting a season low in 18-49 (3.4/11).
CBS didn’t create too much interest for the first night of two-part movie “And Never Let Her Go” (11.67m, 3.6/8 in A18-49), while NBC fared worse with its busted pilot pic “Semper Fi” (7.76m, 3.3/8).
The latest edition of “Eco-Challenge,” airing on cabler USA for the first time, averaged 2.74 million viewers on its first night — twice as many viewers as last year’s opener on the Discovery Channel.
The WB received strong sampling for its new animated laffer “The Oblongs,” which aired at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30. Middle seg matched the adults 18-49 score of lead-in “Steve Harvey” and lead-out “Nikki” (1.1/3).
UPN’s coverage of the XFL fell to season-low marks (1.14m, 0.5/1 in A18-49).
CBS saw significant year-to-year gains with the NCAA men’s basketball semifinal between Duke and Maryland. Game finished as the week’s No. 5 show in total viewers (18.32m), up 20% vs. last year’s North Carolina-Florida matchup (15.24m).
It also spiked by 22% in adults 18-49 (to 7.3/22) and by 25% in both men 18-49 (to 10.1/29) and men 18-34 (to 8.4/29), giving the net its best male demos on any Saturday since the second college basketball semifinal in March 1998.
Opposite the hoops action, the XFL on NBC averaged a lowest-yet 0.8/2 in adults 18-49 — one-half of its rating of three weeks ago (1.6/5) and one-ninth of its premiere score of eight weeks ago. Its overall audience (2.29 million) was the second lowest of the season.
Fox finished second in adults 18-49 with its reality staples, while a repeat of “Disclosure” lifted ABC to second in total viewers (9.83m), attracting a larger audience than when it premiered on the net nearly four years ago.
NBC captured the night in adults 18-49, led by timeslot-winning perfs from an original “Providence” (4.1/13) and a repeat “Law & Order: SVU” (3.8/12). ABC’s “Millionaire” won the middle hour (3.9/11) and was the most-watched show of the night (15.41m).
Fox’s “The Lone Gunmen” (6.13m, 2.9/8 in A18-49) posted its best scores in three Friday tries.
“Survivor” and “CSI” helped CBS top an all-original NBC lineup in total viewers for the first time on record, though the Peacock remained on top in adults 18-49 (Daily Variety, April 2).
“Friends” was the night’s most-watched comedy (17.81m) but was only the net’s third highest-rated comedy on the night in adults 18-49 (8.1/21), behind “Will & Grace” (9.3/22) and “Just Shoot Me” (8.3/20).
NBC’s “ER” was the night’s and week’s No. 1 show in adults 18-49, but with its second-lowest score of the season (12.5/33), behind Thanksgiving. In total viewers, the hospital drama’s first original episode in four weeks sunk to a season low for a firstrun hour (24.49m); it’s also the smallest crowd to gather for an original Thursday seg of the long-running series since its first month on the air in September 1994.
UPN’s “WWF Smackdown” delivered its highest-ever rating in women 18-34 (3.1/8) and improved upon its season averages by double-digit percentages in total viewers (8.10 million), adults 18-49 (3.2/8) and other demos.
Fox’s “Boot Camp” (15.82m, 7.9/19 in A18-49) and ABC’s “My Wife and Kids” (13.72m, 5.7/15) had boffo bows (Daily Variety, March 30).
“Boot Camp” was the week’s No. 1 show in males 12-34 (9.7/28) and No. 4 in adults 18-34 (8.9/24). “Wife” fared best in female demos, topping runner-up “Ed” on NBC by 4 shares in women 18-49 (7.1/19 vs. 5.4/15).
Theatrical “Twilight,” the latest in a long line of weak-performing CBS Wednesday pics, sunk to the lowest 18-49 rating for any firstrun movie to air on the major nets this season (1.8/5).
A strong premiere for “What About Joan” helped ABC win the night in viewers and 18-49 with its best numbers on a Tuesday with regular programming in nearly six months (Daily Variety, March 29). The net also noted that “Joan” scored very well in Nielsen’s measurement of upscale viewers, ranking among the top comedies on television.
NBC’s “The Fighting Fitzgeralds” (9.82m, 4.0/11 in A18-49) looked solid as the net’s leadoff comedy for the first time, improving from a week earlier when it played at 8:30 between two episodes of “Frasier.”
Repeat of “Demolition Man,” which had aired on NBC just 10 weeks earlier, gave UPN its best Tuesday pic ratings (4.18m, 2.0/5 in A18-49) since November.
Original episodes of “Boston Public” (5.6/14) and “Ally McBeal” (6.6/15) lifted Fox to a victory in adults 18-49 on March 26. “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific” gave ABC its largest Monday aud since the American Music Awards on Jan. 8 (15.83m) but only its fifth best Monday 18-49 rating since that night (3.9/10).