College football’s big bowl games didn’t score ratings touchdowns last week, but they performed well enough to give ABC a rare primetime ratings victory.
According to Nielsen estimates for the week of Dec. 31-Jan. 6, the Alphabet net topped second-place NBC by a hefty 15% in adults 18-49 rating (4.6 vs. 4.0) and by 19% in total viewers (12.73 million vs. 10.66m).
ABC also won the week in adults 18-34 (tied with Fox), adults 25-54 and all adult male demos.
It’s the first victory in viewers for ABC this season and its second in adults 18-49. The net, which usually does well at this time of year with pro and college football, also won in the demo two weeks earlier.
ABC won five nights of the week in adults 18-49 and was a close second on another. College football bowl games powered victories on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, while the net also won in the demo on Monday (with New Year’s Eve specials) and on Sunday (with its regular lineup).
Thursday’s title game in college football, played in the Rose Bowl, was the week’s most-watched program (21.56 million) — although this was off by 21% vs. the previous year’s championship contest (27.24m for the Orange Bowl).
Overall, this year’s four Bowl Championship Series games were off 23% in viewers and 24% in men 18-49 vs. 2001.
NBC fell to second in adults 18-49 despite claiming eight of the week’s top 16 shows, including “Friends” at No. 1 (10.6/24). Net also finished on top in all key female demos, grabbing six of the top seven programs in women 18-49.
The “Law & Order” franchise had a great week, with all three editions landing in the top 15 in total viewers, with Friday’s “SVU” hitting a series high (17.71 million).
CBS saw its eight-week winning streak in total viewers come to a halt, falling to third (right behind second-place NBC). An anemic showing on Friday (with its regular lineup) and Saturday (the first “AFI Awards”) set the net back.
Eye’s “Survivor: Africa,” building toward this week’s two-hour finale, was the frame’s No. 1 show in adults 18-49 (8.7/20) and second in total viewers (21.31m) with the best scores since its premiere in October.
Fox had success with movies on Thursday and Friday but ran third in adults 18-49. It continues to hold up better in the younger 18-34 demo, with rookie “Bernie Mac” leading a charge in that demo and helping the net move into a share of the season lead with NBC (3.9/12).
Heavy promotion during college football seemed to energize ABC’s “Alias,” which won at 9 in 18-49 (4.6/10). Hour’s other dramas, Fox’s “The X-Files” and NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” tied at 4.2/9.
ABC, which won the night in 18-49, also received a winning perf from “The Practice” at 10 (15.40m, 5.7/13) and from theatrical repeat “Dr. Dolittle” (11.70m, 4.2/10).
CBS won the night in viewers thanks to the largest NFL overrun of the season (22.1 million for the final 15 minutes of Jets-Raiders) and the best scores in nearly a year for “60 Minutes” (17.64m, 4.5/11 in 18-49). Net’s relaunched “Education of Max Bickford” (11.74m, 2.8/6) improved a bit but again lost big chunks of its “60” lead-in.
NBC’s “UC: Undercover” retained just 69% of its “Law & Order: CI” 18-49 lead-in (2.9/7 vs. 4.2/9).
Things looked better for the WB’s rookie comedy “Off Centre” (2.92m, 1.3/3 in 18-49), which hit season highs in most demos at 9, and then basically matched its scores with a repeat at 9:30.
The inaugural “AFI Awards” (5.48m, 1.9/5 in 18-49) left CBS an uncompetitive fourth on the night, and that seemed to help the other nets.
NBC’s repeat of “Goldeneye” (9.78m, 3.3/9 won the night with the net’s best demo score of the season, ABC was right behind with a strong delivery for “G.I. Jane” (8.87m, 3.3/9), and Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” (8.70m, 3.3/9) hit season highs.
NBC’s all-original lineup rolled, with “Law & Order: SVU” (17.71m, 6.1/17 in 18-49) topping the combined scores of news programs on ABC and CBS.
“Happy Gilmore” delivered Fox’s highest Friday 18-49 rating (4.0/12) in nearly a year and its best score in 18-34 (4.3/15) in nearly two years, while UPN’s movie, “Just Cause,” set a network record for the night in women 25-54 (2.1/5) and topped the WB’s repeat comedies in 18-49 and 18-34.
ABC won the night in total viewers and adults 18-49 with the Rose Bowl (21.56m, 7.9/19), while CBS prevailed in key female demos.
Eye’s “Survivor: Africa” rallied to best-since-preem scores (21.31m, 8.7/20) and a third-run episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” also did very well (21.26m, 8.0/18). And at 10, net’s “The Agency” (11.67m) outdrew a repeat of NBC’s “ER” (11.23m) and pulled to within 2 shares in adults 18-49 (4.3/11 vs. 5.2/13).
NBC finished third, although a repeat “Friends” topped “Survivor” in 18-49 (8.4/20 vs. 8.0/20).
Special movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” gave Fox its strongest nonbaseball Thursday in more than a year (8.93m, 3.5/8 in 18-49).
ABC won with the Orange Bowl (14.03m, 5.1/13 in 18-49), but its shift away from comedies only boosted Fox’s laffers. “Bernie Mac” delivered best-since-preem scores (11.60m, 5.7/13), and “Grounded for Life” (4.8/11) and “Titus” (4.3/10) hit season highs in 18-49.
The Sugar Bowl (13.06m, 4.7/12 in 18-49) proved sweet for ABC on a night when the other nets threw in the towel with repeats.
Dick Clark’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” dominated the 10 o’clock hour on Dec. 31 (9.94m, 3.6/13 in 18-49) and led ABC to victory.