College, pro games scores for Alphabet

Postseason pigskin proved a ratings tonic for ABC last week, as four primetime college and professional football games put the Alphabet net in the ratings end zone for the first time this season.

Net would have likely done even better but one of the most popular college games, Thursday’s Rose Bowl, aired mostly out of primetime.

According to national estimates from Nielsen, ABC dominated the week of Dec. 29-Jan. 4 in 18-49 (4.9/14), total viewers (13.9 million) and other key categories — the net’s first outright demo victory since the Academy Awards in March.

CBS edged out NBC for second in 18-49 (3.1/9 vs. 3.0/8), with Fox fourth (2.7/7).

Nice play

ABC’s coverage of Saturday’s National Football League wildcard playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers rated as the week’s top primetime program (9.6/27 in 18-49, 24.66m), easily topping the combined CBS-NBC-Fox competish on the night.

Three college bowl games also cracked the week’s top 10, led by Sunday’s Sugar Bowl (8.7/22 in 18-49, 23.94m for LSU-Oklahoma), which ranked as the No. 2 show of the week in key categories. Overall, the net’s primetime bowl action was down a bit in the ratings vs. last year.

ABC also enjoyed its annual boost from “Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” spec, which ruled the 10 o’clock hour Wednesday (2.9/11 in 18-49, 7.78m).

Unfortunately for ABC, the tough part of the season (i.e., without football) lies ahead. Net started its post-pigskin season on a strong note Monday of the current week, though, with the premiere of “Cast Away.”

CBS, with a boost from an NFL football overrun Sunday and a Michael Jackson spec Friday, ran second for the week in 18-49 and was the only broadcaster to avoid year-to-year declines.

Although not a huge ratings performer, “Michael Jackson Number Ones” delivered the net’s top 18-49 rating in Friday’s leadoff hour (3.5/10) since September’s premiere of “Joan of Arcadia.”

Familiar fare

The Eye also did well with strong-repeating skeins including the “CSI” franchise and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and got a boost from an NFL overrun Sunday.

“Dateline” was a standout performer for NBC, posting the net’s best Friday numbers from 8 to 10 since April (3.4/10 in 18-49, 12.30m). And on Sunday, a follow-up report on weight loss garnered the show’s best score on that night in 22 months (3.6/9 in 18-49, 12.77m).

Also performing nicely was an original spec on New Year’s Eve, “Most Outrageous Moments on Live TV” (3.3/12 in 18-49), while Tuesday laffers “Whoopi” and “Tracy Morgan” looked solid in repeats.

At Fox, a four-episode marathon of “The Simple Life” produced a Tuesday victory in key demos, and Sunday’s “The Simpsons” (5.4/13 in 18-49, 12.00m) was the week’s top comedy in younger demos.

Net also was pleased with the conclusion of “World Idol” on Thursday (3.0/8 in 18-49, 7.73m), which crowned Norwegian Kurt Nilsen the winner.

The WB, with a solid showing for the net preem Sunday of “Bring It On” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 4.77m), defeated UPN for fifth-place honors across the board.

* * *

On Monday of the current week, the first significant wave of original programming brought strong ratings to CBS, NBC and ABC. CBS, led by “CSI: Miami” (7.0/17 in 18-49, 20.40m) took the night in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers, with the Peacock pulling ahead in 18-34 and male demos.

NBC’s “Las Vegas” hit a series high at 9 (5.6/13 in 18-49, 13.18m), winning in 18-34 and all male demos, coming out of a special twins edition of “Fear Factor” (6.4/17 in 18-49, 14.79m). At 10, reality skein “Average Joe 2: Hawaii” (4.9/12 in 18-49, 9.59m) opened with solid numbers.

ABC successfully launched its Monday movie night with the three-hour “Cast Away,” whose 18-49 rating (4.5/11) is the best for any theatrical on TV in more than a year. It nearly doubled fourth-place Fox’s repeat score for “Billy Madison” (2.3/6).

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