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NBC’s Ben-Jen beats Fox

Duo's 'Dateline' chat helps net nudge CBS for total viewers

Even though the Major League Baseball All-Star Game last week gave Fox its highest rated night of the summer, NBC prevailed in key ratings categories for an eighth straight frame.

Pat O’Brien’s Thursday “Dateline” chat with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez scored big for the net, ranking as the No. 1 program of the July 14-20 week in adults 18-49 (5.1/16) — the highest rating for the newsmag since the Michael Jackson edition on Feb. 17.

The special “Dateline” helped NBC end CBS’ eight-week Thursday winning streak in adults 18-49 and 25-54, although the Eye remained on top for the night in total viewers.

For the week, NBC slipped past Fox in the key 18-49 demo (2.9/10 vs. 2.7/9) and beat out CBS in adults 25-54 (3.3/10 vs. 3.0/9) — the Peacock’s eighth straight victory in these demos this summer. NBC also squeaked past CBS for the week in overall total viewers (7.92 million to 7.80m).

Peacock web’s balanced sked included the week’s top two comedies in 18-49 (a pair of “Will & Grace” segs on Thursday), the No. 1 drama (“Law & Order,” tied with CBS’ “CSI”) and several solid perfs from unscripted skeins.

Sunday’s debut of “The Restaurant” tied a special episode of “CSI” for the 18-49 lead at 10 (3.1/9) — good but not great numbers coming out of “Law & Order: CI” (3.5/10). On the other hand, Wednesday’s fading “Fame,” one week from its finale, delivered the same 7 share in 18-49 as CBS oldster “60 Minutes II.”

At Fox, baseball’s All-Star Game (4.6/15 in A18-49) was down from last year but was still a broad enough performer to rank as the week’s most-watched program overall (13.81m).

It was a fairly quiet week otherwise for the net, although “Paradise Hotel” (3.3/10 in A18-49, 6.20m) delivered its best Monday numbers to date, close behind the premiere of NBC’s “For Love or Money 2” (3.5/10, 8.20m).

In its second week, gameshow spoof “Banzai” retained a less-than-stellar 75% of its lead-in from “The Simpsons” (2.7/8 vs. 3.6/12 in 18-49), again faring best among young men.

CBS was up across the board in all key demos, as “Big Brother 4” again won all three of its hours in 18-49 (led by Wednesday’s 3.6/11), and relationship show “Cupid” (second-place 3.6/11) followed it by inching up a tick from its premiere. This combo gave the net its first Wednesday 18-49 victory since Nov. 27.

ABC had a weak frame, kept out of the week’s top 20 programs in both adults 18-49 and total viewers. One strong performer was Wednesday’s “George Lopez,” which built on its “My Wife and Kids” lead-in by a best-yet 25% in 18-49(3.0/10 vs. 2.4/9).

The WB’s concert series “Pepsi Smash” (0.7/2 in A18-49, 1.72m) didn’t do much in its premiere, although it scored decently among female teens (2.2/9). Instead, the Frog got a nice boost from Thursday’s repeat of the original “Bad Boys” (1.7/6 in A18-49, 2.0/7 in A18-34), allowing the net to tie UPN for the week in 18-34.

UPN’s Monday comedy block placed third among young femmes (behind only NBC and Fox) and beat ABC’s “Life With Bonnie” marathon in 18-49 (1.4/5 to 1.2/4).

The Turner nets led ad-supported cable networks in primetime, with TNT on top in total viewers (1.99 million) and TBS eking ahead in adults 18-49 (0.8/3); they tied in adults 25-54 (0.8/3). ESPN’s “Home Run Derby” was the most-watched cable program overall (5.22 million).

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