Overpowering ‘Fear’

Celeb edition scores boffo; 3 preems weak

While a special celeb edition of “Fear Factor” scored socko Nielsen numbers for NBC, the news wasn’t so good for a trio of shows that premiered Monday.

Peacock’s experimental Colin Quinn-hosted comedy tanked in its first outing, while Fox’s Jersey TV-produced drama “The American Embassy” opened to soft numbers — to put things diplomatically. Over at CBS, a 10 p.m. preview of “The Amazing Race” limped to the finish line.

And despite lots of hype, David Letterman still lost to Jay Leno in the ratings Monday.

In primetime, the one positive standout for the night was a 90-minute celeb edition of Endemol USA’s NBC reality skein “Fear Factor.” After showing signs of fading a bit the past few weeks, “Fear” roared back with a 7.6 rating/19 share with adults 18-49 and an audience of 17.1 million viewers. That’s NBC’s best numbers in the slot since April 1998 and the best-ever demo performance for the skein.

Couldn’t hold lead-in

Unfortunately, Quinn’s Gotham-based comedy/variety half-hour couldn’t hold on to its massive lead-in. Skein fell to a 3.5/8 with 7.2 million viewers, a disturbingly large demo decline of 54% from its lead-in. Nonetheless, that was still good enough for second place with adults 18-49 and first with men 18-34.

Fox’s premiere of “The American Embassy” (3.5/8, 8.0 million) fared better by comparison, though its numbers were still disappointing. Skein fell about 25% from its “Boston Public” demo lead-in and finished third for the hour.

Over at CBS, a so-so showing for a lineup of sitcom repeats led to disappointing numbers for a 10 p.m. preview/premiere of “Amazing Race 2” (3.9/10, 9.0 million.) Demo-wise, that’s down 22% from the show’s first season premiere last fall and a mere 5% advantage over what CBS has been averaging in the slot with “Family Law.”

ABC weak at 8-10 p.m.

ABC, meanwhile, remains a lost cause from 8-10 p.m. Monday, with “My Wife and Kids” and “The Wayne Brady Show” both taking hits vs. their week-ago average. “Brady” (1.8/4, 4.61 million) had a particularly tough night, losing nearly half its aud from March 4.

An ABC News spec did a bit better than the now-canceled “The Chair” at 9 p.m., helping the Alphabet improve its overall standings for the night.

There was also a glimmer of hope for “Once and Again” (3.6/10, 8.6 million) at 10 p.m. Skein still ranked third in its slot but showed nice week-to-week gains.

NBC on top Monday

Overall, NBC dominated Monday night with a 5.8/15 demo rating, followed by CBS (4.6/12), Fox (4.1/10), ABC (2.8/7), WB (1.4/4) and UPN (1.3/3.) It was NBC’s biggest Monday win without the help of the Olympics since May 1999.

Peacock also ruled in viewers with an average aud of 12.8 million; CBS was right behind with 12.6 million.

As for latenight, local market numbers show Leno’s “Tonight Show” (4.5/12) beat both “Nightline” (4.2/10) and Letterman’s “Late Show” (3.9/10) in the nation’s biggest markets. “Nightline” airs from 11:35-12:05 p.m. More important final demo numbers will be released later this week.

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