Net sweeps all key adult demos for fourth week

HOLLYWOOD — The last two games of the NBA finals and a double dose of reality on its revamped Monday sked helped NBC cruise to a ratings victory last week, as the net swept all key adult demos for a fourth straight week.

Overall, though, it was a wretched week for the broadcast nets, which combined for a season-low average of 36.1 million viewers in primetime — down a stark 15% from the same week a year ago. The WB, up 1%, was the only net to add viewers vs. the same frame last season, when CBS’ “Survivor” was beginning to take off and ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and UPN’s “WWF Smackdown” were much stronger.

CBS, Fox, the WB and UPN all drew their smallest weekly audiences of the season.

Cable’s ad-supported nets were up 9% in household share from the same week a year ago, while ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN, WB and Pax were down by the same percentage. For the week, according to Nielsen Media Research, cable led broadcast in share (47.8 vs. 44.3) after trailing during the same week last year (43.9 vs. 48.5).

For the week of June 11-17, NBC claimed the week’s top six programs in adults 18-49 en route to its ninth straight victory in the demo. Basketball action on Wednesday and Friday ranked Nos. 1 and 2, Monday’s original reality series “Fear Factor” and “Weakest Link” were third and fourth, and repeat Thursday laffers “Friends” and “Will & Grace” tied for fifth.

Net also had the largest overall primetime aud for the fourth time in five weeks, topping runner-up CBS by more than 1.5 million viewers.

ABC logged its lowest weekly adults 18-49 rating on record (2.7/9), but in this era of dwindling ratings, that was good enough for second place for the week. Two original episodes of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and strong showings from newsmags “PrimeTime Thursday” and “20/20 Friday” gave the net four shows in the top 10 in total viewers for the first time since Oscars week in March.

Fox slipped to third in adults 18-34 for the first time since October and fourth in adults 18-49 (with its worst average in five years).

CBS was second in total viewers and adults 25-54 (tied with ABC) but logged its lowest weekly 18-49 rating in two years. Net’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Becker” were the week’s most-watched comedies, while “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” was No. 1 among dramas.

Monday

NBC’s “Fear Factor” eased by 12% in adults 18-49 vs. its strong preem a week earlier (4.6/16 vs. 5.2/17), but still overwhelmed its mostly repeat competish. “Fear’s” gross-out challenges are playing well with young auds, as it matched its premiere rating in teens (4.0/18) and improved slightly in adults 18-34 (5.7/21 vs. 5.4/19), but week 2 saw a 28% decline in adults 35-49 (3.6/11 vs. 5.0/15) and a 15% drop in total viewers (10.18m vs. 11.91m).

NBC’s “Weakest Link” followed with another time-period victory in 18-49 (5.4/15) and viewers (12.31m), ranking as the night’s top show in both. Net won the night in the demo for a second straight week, while CBS reclaimed the night in total viewers.

The WB’s “Angel” (1.69m, 0.7/2 in A18-49) continues to struggle on its new night.

Sunday

A 79-minute U.S. Open golf overrun (3.1/15 in A18-49) and a decent showing for a repeat of “Fear Factor” (3.3/10) gave NBC the night in the demo. Net didn’t do much biz with an original “Weakest Link” (3.2/11) at 8 or a 10 p.m. Father’s Day spec from NBC News’ Tom Brokaw (2.1/6).

ABC’s “My Wife and Kids” and Fox’s “Boston Public” failed to stir up much interest in special Sunday airings. Four episodes of “Wife” averaged a mere 2.2/7 in adults 18-49, while “Public’s” 1.9/6 was down slightly from the previous week’s 2.1/5 for an “X-Files” repeat. Fox’s “The Simpsons” (3.5/13) and “Malcolm in the Middle” (3.5/12) were the night’s top shows in the demo.

Saturday

CBS won the night in total viewers with a mere 6.5 million, led by “The District” (8.26m). Fox’s reality series, including an original “America’s Most Wanted,” led the way in adults 18-49 (2.3/10) although it was down by 34% vs. the same week a year ago (3.2/12).

ABC finished last on the night, hurt by the “World Stunt Awards” (3.13m, 1.2/4 in A18-49).

Friday

The NBA Finals wrapped with the lowest marks of the series (17.36m, 7.3/25 in A18-49) — still enough to give NBC an 8-share victory over runner-up ABC in adults 18-49. Series grabbed its best marks in three years and was up 10% from last year in total viewers and 12% in male demos.

Thursday

ABC took the night in total viewers for the first time in 14 weeks, taking the night’s final five half-hours. Leading the way was a solid showing from an original “Millionaire” (13.59m), which led into a dominant perf from newsmag “PrimeTime Thursday” (13.86m), the most watched show of the night. “PrimeTime” nabbed the best 18-49 rating (4.5/14) for any newsmag in exactly one month and enjoyed its largest demo advantage over a repeat “ER” since last July (4.5/14 vs. 3.4/10). Newsmag also easily bested CBS’ “48 Hours” (2.5/8).

UPN’s “WWF Smackdown” fell to season lows (4.98m, 2.0/7 in A18-49), down 23% week-to-week in the demo and off by 29% from the same week a year ago. Net still won the night in men 18-34 (3.4/13) and teens (3.9/16).

Wednesday

Preem of ABC newsroom drama “The Beast” (6.30m, 2.6/8 in A18-49) got mauled opposite the NBA Finals (19.97m, 9.0/27). Net fared better with Drew Carey series in the night’s opening hour, as both the comedian’s self-titled laffer (3.0/11) and his improv reality skein “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (3.2/10) won their slots in 18-49.

Tuesday

ABC’s “Dharma and Greg” (10.22m, 4.2/13 in A18-49) topped NBC’s “Frasier” head-to-head for a third straight week. The Alphabet, which also got a winning perf from “Millionaire” (14.63m, 3.7/13), won its 15th straight Tuesday in viewers and tied CBS for first in 18-49 (3.2/10).

Eye’s latest AFI “100 Years” spec, listing the most thrilling U.S. movies of all time, won in adults 25-54 (4.0/11) but was off 26% in the demo and 31% in total viewers (8.98m vs. 12.95m) vs. last year’s comedies spec.

In its second week, NBC laffer “Kristin” tied for second in 18-49 with Fox’s repeat of “Titus” (2.8/9). It lost 7% of its “Frasier” lead-in compared with a 4% build a week earlier.

Monday

NBC’s preem of “Fear Factor” lifted NBC to an easy victory on June 11 (Daily Variety, June 13).

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more