NBC sweeps to demo dominance
Peacock execs were preening their feathers this month, as the network locked up the most dominant November sweep win of any network in six years among adults 18-49.CBS, meanwhile, had set its eyes on the total viewer prize, and looks to squeak out a narrow victory over NBC. As has become a torturous sweeps tradition, network execs spent hours Tuesday conducting a flurry of conference calls in the name of slicing numbers and dicing spin. In the case of NBC, entertainment prexy Jeff Zucker had plenty of both. Not only is the Peacock enjoying the widest margin of November victory for any net since 1996 (projected to top second place by more than 20% in adults 18-49), but this is its seventh November triumph in eight years in the demo. “This is the real NBC story: Dominance extends to every daypart,” he said. “It is across the board and it is deep.” In primetime, through Monday (26 of 28 nights), NBC leads second-place ABC by 21% in adults 18-49 (5.1 to 4.2), while CBS leads NBC by 1% in total viewers (13.35m vs. 13.20m). CBS, with its older-skewing Tuesday drama lineup and special episodes of “Survivor” and “CSI” on Wednesday, is expected to stay on top. It could be a photo finish, however. NBC, still in the hunt, made a last minute scheduling switch last night, subbing out segs of “In-Laws” and “Just Shoot Me” in favor of two “Frasier” repeats. ‘Virtually no stunting’ “Our success this November is even more impressive because it was done on the strength of our core schedule with virtually no stunting,” said CBS topper Leslie Moonves, who noted the Eye eased into a sweeps win last November with big events such as the Emmy Awards and a Carol Burnett retrospective. In the sweep’s other tight race, ABC is expected to maintain its slight advantage over CBS among adults 18-49, moving from fourth to second in one season. “We set out this year with a handful of specific goals, to stop the downward momentum and show real movement back in the right direction as we rebuild the foundation of the network,” said ABC Entertainment Television Group chair Lloyd Braun. “This shows real potential and strong building blocks over a wide area.” Meanwhile, the WB grabbed the growth story this sweeps, posting double-digit bumps among viewers and in every young adult demo, while UPN saw some declines from last November. Fox takes tumble Then there’s Fox. The network clearly stumbled this month — and Fox execs are the first to admit it. Take the World Series out of last year’s November average, and the network is still down 18% with adults 18-49. Put those baseball numbers back in and the decline looks a little more nasty (down 29%). “We had no illusions about how challenging this November sweeps would be,” said Fox Entertainment prexy Gail Berman. “Clearly this is a challenging year for us and we have to evaluate our sweeps performance in that context. “Rebuilding is extremely challenging in today’s fragmenting TV universe, but especially so when you have a delayed launch,” she said. Still, things aren’t completely gloomy at the net that Rupert built. For starters, Fox still won three nights among adults 18-49 — the most of any web — and “American Idol 2” will provide some much-needed juice beginning in January. Other notes from the nets:
- Much of NBC’s success came from heavily promoted stunts on regular series such as “Frasier,” which featured a storyline about Niles’ heart attack, and “Will & Grace,” which chronicled Grace’s wedding.
- CBS also fed on healthy regular series numbers, in particular “CSI.” The crime drama was up 22% year-to-year and helped the net deliver its strongest November sweep perf ever on a Thursday in key demos. Also, “Without a Trace” is holding onto bigger chunks of its “CSI” lead-in, and “Survivor” is holding up very well.
- Thanks to “Monday Night Football,” Tuesday and Wednesday comedy blocks, “The Bachelor” and the news division’s interviews that followed the hit reality show, the Alphabet will finish no lower than second one year after placing a distant fourth.
- Fox’s Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday wins aside, the net is shaky on Monday and Friday and it has no real plans yet for Thursday.
- Key growth for the WB included adults 18-34, where the net is up year-to-year by 20%.
- At UPN, “Enterprise” declines are now most responsible for the net’s year-to-year dropoff, as Monday has improved and Thursday’s “WWE Smackdown” has stabilized somewhat.