HOLLYWOOD — Auds failed to get wrapped up in news coverage of the country’s military action Sunday as overall primetime viewing of the Big Three nets — on what was supposed to be Emmy night — was way down vs. a week ago.
According to prelim nationals from Nielsen, two-hour news specials from 7 to 9 Sunday night combined for about 30 million viewers on ABC, CBS and NBC. One week earlier, on the first Sunday of the season, the same nets combined for 38.3 million.
These low turnouts also affected the ratings for the rookie dramas that followed the news specs, with ABC’s “Alias,” and NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “UC: Undercover” all dropping sharply from their premieres.
“Alias” (prelim 10.7 million, 4.4/9 in adults 18-49) was down 29% in 18-49 vs. its premiere, “Law & Order: CI” (prelim 11.1m, 3.4/7) was off by 24%, and “UC” (prelim 8.2m, 3.4/8) was down by 26%.
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“Alias” finished in a virtual tie with the final hour of Fox’s “There’s Something About Mary” in 18-49, while the movie won by a convincing 6 shares in 18-34. The spy drama was saddled with a much weaker 8:30 lead-in from news this week (prelim 2.7/6 in 18-49, down from a 5.1/12 for the final half-hour of “A Bug’s Life” one week earlier.)
Similarly, “Law & Order: CI’s” second seg was preceded by a news spec that scored a 3.1/7 in 18-49, down from the 4.2/10 that the second half-hour of “Weakest Link” delivered a week earlier.
“UC: Undercover” held up pretty well at 10, again building slightly on its “Law & Order: CI” 18-49 lead-in. It still finished 6 shares behind ABC’s “The Practice” (prelim 15.8m, 5.8/14) in the demo.
Fox, which got a boost from a National Football League overrun, won the night in 18-49 (prelim 4.4/11) and 18-34 (4.9/14). It also was on top from 7 to 10 in adults 25-54 (prelim 4.3/10) before “The Practice” helped put that category in ABC’s column for the night (4.7/9).
The Alphabet also was the most-watched net for a second straight Sunday.
CBS, which was to televise Sunday’s Emmy Awards, struggled to attract an audience with its hastily added lineup of series repeats from 9 to 11. Net was first in total viewers from 7 to 9 with a special edition of “60 Minutes” (prelim 11.8m) but finished fourth 7 to 11.
For the night, the four major nets combined for 39.2 million viewers (down 16% week to week) and a 14.4 rating/35 share in adults 18-49 (down 14%), according to prelim Nielsens.
It’s unclear where the audience was diverted to Sunday, as overall viewing levels (63.6% of households nationwide) was up from the previous Sunday (62.6%). National Sunday ratings for cable nets will be released by Nielsen today.
Based on prelim nationals for Saturday and Sunday, NBC is poised to win the second week of the season by comfortable margins in all key adult demos as well as total viewers. The Peacock joins UPN as the only nets to be up vs. a year ago after two weeks.