HOLLYWOOD — Competition returned to the network arena last week, as CBS and NBC split Nielsen gold in the nets’ first post-Olympics faceoff.
CBS, fueled by the Grammy Awards and the return of “Survivor,” won the week among total viewers (14.05 million), besting second-place NBC (13.39 million). But the Peacock — backed by the strength of its relentless onslaught of promos during the Salt Lake City Games — took the crown among adults 18-49 (5.3/14, vs. CBS’ 4.7/12).
Both nets were rewarded with double-digit growth among viewers and adults 18-49. On the flip side, someone forgot to tell ABC and Fox viewers that the Olympics were over and they could return home. Both nets returned to pre-Olympics levels but nonetheless maintained steep year-to-year declines.
Part of those declines could be attributed to CBS’ strong perf among adults 18-34. Thanks in part to the Grammys, the Eye tied for second in the demo with Fox (3.9/11).
NBC took first place among adults 18-49 on four nights last week, with CBS taking two and Fox winning one. As for total viewers, as CBS and NBC each took three, while ABC won one.
UPN continued its seasonlong growth story, jumping 11% among viewers and 20% with adults 18-49. UPN has been up year-to-year every night this season except one. The WB ended the week flat vs. last year in viewers, but saw declines in young adult demos.
A glimmer of hope for troubled ABC: The Alphabet web won its first Sunday night among total viewers in three months (albeit, by a hair). It’s also the first night ABC has won among total viewers with nonsports programming since Dec. 4.
Credit in part goes to “Alias,” which scored its best adults 18-34 numbers since October (4.6/12) and best results among women 18-34 ever (6.0/15).
NBC, meanwhile, was hampered by a low-rated NBA game (4.2 million), which bled deep into the 7 p.m. hour. Fox took the night with adults 18-49 thanks to a strong perf by a repeat of “The Simpsons,” which pulled the night’s highest numbers in the demo (6.6/16) and even outscored its initial run last December.
NBC managed its best non-Olympic Saturday night scores of the season, despite simply offering up the second run of a middle-of-the-road Tommy Lee Jones thriller (“U.S. Marshals”). Peacock took the night with viewers (10.2 million) and adults 18-49 (3.9/11). The pic also gave NBC its best Saturday night total viewer scores since November 2000 (“Twister”).
Meanwhile, the Olympics apparently pulled off a feat no villain has been able to accomplish: Wound James Bond. The latest installment of ABC’s “Bond Picture Show,” the Shirley Bassey-themed “Diamonds Are Forever,” didn’t come close to the franchise’s pre-Olympics performances among viewers (although it did slightly uptick from the previous two weeks).
The 33rd annual NAACP Image Awards on Fox attracted its highest total viewer audience in three years and was up 11% vs. a year ago (5.1 million vs. 4.6 million).
The same couldn’t be said for the night’s other event, CBS’ Miss USA Pageant. Not even the nation’s newfound patriotism and a judging panel that included Jermaine Jackson could save the 51st annual pageant, which sank to record-low numbers among viewers (7.6 million, down from last year’s previous low, 7.8 million). By the way, Miss District of Columbia won.
The premiere of “Survivor: Marquesas” attracted 23.2 million viewers and a 9.1/22 rating among adults 18-49. That’s down from “Survivor: Africa’s” 10.4/23 debut in the demo, but still a strong showing, given the competition: a continually resurgent “Friends” and the heavily hyped premiere of “Leap of Faith.”
Both shows gave NBC a win at 8 p.m.; “Faith” held on to 75% of “Friends'” lead-in among adults 18-49 and viewers — better than “Inside Schwartz” last fall (72% among adults 18-49), but not as high as previous entries “Cursed” (81%) and “Daddio” (85 percent).
CBS’ “CSI” continued to slap the Peacock at 9 p.m., but “The Agency” remains a work in progress at 10 p.m.
As a result, NBC squeaked a victory over CBS with total viewers (21.9 million vs. 21.4 million) but commanded an adults 18-49 victory (10.8/26 vs. 8.0/19). The other networks didn’t even bother to play.
Perhaps Recording Academy prexy Michael Greene’s midceremony lecture against the evils of downloading songs scared away music fans. Whatever the reason, the 44th annual Grammy Awards attracted 18.96 million viewers, the kudocast’s worst showing in seven years (and down from last year’s Eminem-fueled 26.65 million).
The awards show still won the night for the Eye in all adult demos, including a 9.3/23 among adults 18-49. NBC, which aired a highly promoted episode of “Ed” featuring Kelly Ripa, took second (5.4/13).
While the real test is still to come, NBC entry “Watching Ellie” debuted to strong sampling.
The Julia Louis-Dreyfus laffer scored a 7.1/17 with adults 18-49 and 16.7 million viewers, better than any other non-Thursday debut this season. “Ellie” also was NBC’s best Tuesday night opening since “Something So Right” in September 1996 (20.8 million). CBS stalwart “JAG” still held the edge over “Ellie” among viewers and won the hour in that measurement.
Fox’s critical darling “24,” meanwhile, continues to grow. The Keifer Sutherland actioner was second at 9 p.m. among adults 18-49 (4.7/11, the show’s highest rating since its November premiere).
CBS reclaimed the Monday night title among adults 18-49, which NBC has held since mid-January. The race was tight, with CBS pulling a 5.1/13 to NBC’s 5.0/12 and Fox’s 4.9/12.