Eye sizzles in key demos

Net takes adults 18-49, 25-54, and total viewers crowns

With “Survivor,” “CSI” and “Rudolph’s” red nose pointing the way, a red-hot CBS notched victories in key primetime ratings categories last week.

In a big week for unscripted programs, the Eye’s conclusion to “Survivor: Pearl Islands” outperformed the finales of NBC’s “Average Joe” and ABC’s “Trista & Ryan’s Wedding” — as well as week two of Fox’s hottest program, “The Simple Life.”

“Survivor” (9.7/22) tied with “CSI” (9.7/24) as the week’s No. 1 program in 18-49, according to Nielsen, while the Thursday crime drama topped the rankings in total viewers (26.81 million). Net also got a big lift on Tuesday with another winning perf from perennial holiday fave “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (5.0/14 in 18-49, 13.69 million).

Eye nabs key demo

Overall, CBS edged out NBC for the week’s adults 18-49 crown (4.4/12 vs. 4.3/12), with Fox and ABC tying at a distant third (3.3/9). Eye has now won three of the season’s first 12 weeks in 18-49 (including one tie) after winning only two all of last season; and it has caught baseball-boosted Fox for second place season-to-date (3.9/11), behind only NBC (4.3/12).

CBS also won for a sixth straight frame in adults 25-54 (5.3/13) and for a seventh straight time in total viewers (13.68 million).

The Super Bowl and all-star “Survivor” are still on deck for CBS, which should be in position to challenge NBC for the seasonlong adults 25-54 crown. Net leads the Peacock by a tick (5.0/12 vs. 4.9/12) one-third of the way through the season.

Also clicking for CBS has been “60 Minutes,” whose Sunday edition on the capture of Saddam Hussein (4.8/13 in 18-49, 18.76m) helped push the vet newsmag into the seasonlong top 10 in total viewers.

Femmes love ‘Joe’

At NBC, which won the week in adults 18-34 and all key female demos, “Average Joe” wrapped its first edition with strong numbers, including Monday’s highest 9-11 p.m. 18-49 rating with series in 10 years (8.8/21). “Joe” was the week’s No. 1 program in adults 18-34 (8.9/23) and is now the season’s No. 1 new series in 18-49.

Net was also a solid second to CBS on Thursday behind “ER” (9.1/24 in 18-49, 19.72m), but first-year Tuesday comedies “Tracy Morgan” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 7.64m) and “Whoopi” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 7.78m) took a step backward in a tough hour that included “Rudolph.”

ABC did well in several timeslots but was dragged down by repeats of dramas “Threat Matrix” (0.9/3 in 18-49) and “Alias” (1.6/4).

‘Wedding’ woos auds

On the positive side, the two-hour conclusion of “Trista & Ryan’s Wedding” was a hit (7.2/18 in 18-49, 17.08m), ranking as the net’s top-rated telecast of the fall in 18-34 (7.0/20). And new Tuesday drama “Line of Fire” maintained its week-earlier premiere score in 18-49 (3.1/9), although that left it well behind a repeat of NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” (4.8/13).

Fox was led by Tuesday unscripted series “The Simple Life” (5.5/15 in 18-49, 10.81m), which led its slot in key demos, and got a boost on Wednesday from the “Billboard Music Awards” (4.6/12 in 18-49, 9.81m). Also, Thursday drama “Tru Calling” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 4.48m) is hanging in there, posting a 7 share among adults 18-34 in a tough hour.

Of some concern is a roughly 20% year-to-year decline for Tuesday drama “24” (3.8/10 in 18-49), which benefited from the strong “Simple Life” lead-in.

Things were again quiet at the WB and UPN, with the Frog edging ahead in 18-34 (1.2/4 vs. 1.1/3). Both nets were down more than 20% year-to-year.

Among ad-supported cable networks in primetime, TBS edged past ESPN to take the frame in 18-49 (1.0 rating), boosted by two airings of theatrical “Swordfish.” Sci Fi also had a good week, ranking third among adults 18-49 and men 18-49 thanks to two-part movie “Battlestar Galactica,” which averaged more than 4.4 million viewers overall for Wednesday’s conclusion.

At HBO, week two of miniseries “Angels in America” averaged 2.93 million viewers on Sunday, down 30% from its week-earlier preem (4.18m).

Each adults 18-49 rating equals 1.288 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

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