Frog, ABC perk up as Fox has a bad week

Comedy stunting by NBC and country music on CBS have boosted the top-rated nets to some of their best numbers of the season, while the WB continued to close the gap with the Big Four. The Peacock and Frog were the only nets showing year-to-year gains.

Third-place ABC had its best week of the season during the Nov. 4-10 frame, thanks to a huge Wednesday courtesy of “The Bachelor” and Ozzy Osbourne, but it was a mostly downer week for Fox, which was a distant fourth in adults 18-49 — and closer to sixth-place UPN than first-place NBC.

According to Nielsen, NBC matched its strongest 18-49 average since premiere week (5.1/14), winning Thursday by season-high margins thanks to “supersize” episodes of “Friends” (13.4/35) and “Will & Grace” (10.9/26). These laffers, along with the night’s “ER” (11.2/30), were the week’s top three draws in 18-49.

NBC also delivered the strongest 18-49 rating for any movie this season, Monday’s made-for “Carrie” (5.0/12); got a boost out of a 90-minute Tuesday “Fear Factor” (5.0/12); and saw Friday’s “Providence” (3.5/12) and Sunday’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (5.4/12) hit season highs.

Through Monday of this week, NBC is the clear leader for the November sweep in adults 18-49 with a 5.0 rating/13 share (even vs. last year in rating), followed by CBS (4.4/12, down 6%); ABC (3.9/10, even); Fox, 3.5/9 (down 41%); the WB (2.0/5, up 11%); and UPN (1.8/5, down 10%).

CBS, which won last week in total viewers with a season-best average 14.2 million viewers, leads the sweep by that measure as well.

The Eye was a strong No. 2 in adults 18-49 last week behind its Monday and Thursday lineups and Wednesday’s “CMA Awards,” which delivered year-to-year gains (to 6.1/15). Net’s “CSI” (27.86 million viewers overall) edged out “Friends” (27.51m) as the week’s most-watched program.

The WB continues to exhibit the best year-to-year growth of any net, ranking third in women 18-34 (3.3/9) and matching its highest weekly delivery ever in adults 18-34 (2.6/7). “Smallville” and “Gilmore Girls” combined to set numerous Tuesday records and Friday’s comedy lineup hit some season highs.

ABC was third in 18-49 (4.0/11), but second in men 18-49 and adults 18-34. “The Bachelor” again hit new highs, outranking CBS’ “Survivor” for the first time to become the week’s top-rated reality show in 18-49 (7.8/18). And a special Wednesday “20/20″ featuring interviews with Osbourne’s family logged the highest 18-49 rating for any newsmag in 2½ years (7.7/19).

The Alphabet also did well with “Monday Night Football” and Saturday’s repeat of “Saving Private Ryan.”

Fox logged one of its worst in-season weekly 18-49 averages ever (3.2/8), as its Sunday comedy lineup looked soft and nothing else except “24” or “John Doe” clicked. Net had only two of the week’s top 20 shows in 18-49 — “The Simpsons” and “24,” which tied for 14th with a 5.9 rating.

UPN again ranked sixth in both adults 18-34 and 18-49, led by “WWE Smackdown,” which pinned down its largest aud of the season (6.2 million).

Monday

On Nov. 11, CBS remained on top in total viewers and adults 25-54 and was a close second in 18-49, led by “Everybody Loves Raymond” (7.4/17) and “CSI: Miami” (7.2/18), which also drew its largest aud in seven weeks (20.06 million).

The 500th game of ABC’s “Monday Night Football” (Raiders-Broncos) delivered the franchise’s best scores among adults 18-49 (8.5/22) and adults 18-34 (8.6/24) since December 2000 and its largest overall aud (19.6 million) since September 2001.

UPN’s comedy block was up 29% year-to-year (2.2/6 in 18-34), while NBC’s “Fear Factor” nabbed a season-best 5.8/14 in 18-49. On the down side, Fox’s “Boston Public” slipped to a firstrun 18-49 low (3.5/9).

Sunday

It was a close three-way battle in 18-49, with football-boosted CBS tying NBC for first (4.1) and Fox (4.0) and ABC (3.9) not far behind. Fox’s “Simpsons” was the night’s top show in the demo (5.9/15).

NBC’s “Law & Order: CI” hit a season high (5.4/12 in A18-49), topping HBO’s “The Sopranos” (5.3/12) for the first time. Net won the night in key female demos.

Preem of “Beauty and the Beast” on ABC was the week’s most-watched show among kids (3 million moppets). CBS misfired with its movie, made-for “Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story” (9.73m, 2.8/7 in 18-49).

From 10 to 11, the Big Three nets combined for an anemic 27 share in adults 18-49 — way down from last year’s 39. ABC’s “The Practice” fell to a firstrun season low (4.4/11).

Led by “Charmed,” the WB’s lineup was up a big 58% year-to-year in adults 18-34 (to 1.9/5).

Saturday

Second run of “Saving Private Ryan” gave ABC the night in 18-49 (3.2/10) and teens (3.1/12), while Fox’s reality skeins inched ahead in 18-34 (2.4/9). CBS’ drama lineup easily won in women 25-54 (3.8/11) but was fourth in key male demos.

Friday

Fox’s “John Doe” has returned strong after baseball preemptions, taking its hour in all male demos and adults 18-34 and placing second to “Dateline” in 18-49 (3.1/10). NBC won every half-hour of the night in 18-49 and total viewers.

“Reba” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” powered a strong night for the WB, which achieved season highs in femmes 12-34 (2.6/10).

Thursday

Boosted by a 47-minute “Friends” and a 38-minute “Will & Grace,” NBC defeated CBS by 55% among adults 18-49 (11.3 to 7.3) — the Peacock’s largest Thursday advantage since May 16 (Daily Variety, Nov. 11).

Wednesday

In addition to winning in 18-49 with a season-high 6.7/17, ABC prevailed for a fifth straight week in adults 18-34 (6.9/19) — its longest such in-season Wednesday stretch in 10 years (Daily Variety, Nov. 8).

CBS averaged 17.61 million viewers for its three-hour “CMA Awards,” which gave the net a nightly victory in adults 25-54 (6.9/16) and a strong second in 18-49 (6.1/15).

Tuesday

“24” held up very well in its second outing, teaming with a “Fox’s Funniest Outtakes” spec (4.0/10) to give the net a win in key demos. Although a 90-minute “Fear Factor” gave NBC a big boost, a special 9:30 “Frasier” (4.6/10) sunk to the show’s lowest firstrun score ever (Daily Variety, Nov. 7).

The 10 o’clock hour was devoted to Election Night coverage, with NBC drawing the largest aud (8.42 million), followed by CBS (7.33m), ABC (6.76m), Fox News Channel (2.79m) and CNN (2.45m).

Monday

ABC won on Nov. 4 in adults 18-49 behind “Monday Night Football” (8.0/20) and a special “20/20″ (3.1/8).

Opposite NBC’s “Carrie,” Lifetime’s original movie “The Pact” struggled (2.54m, 1.0/2 in A18-49).

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