Plot twist stirs up NBC sudser

Shocker plotline for NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” generated a ratings surge in recent days as viewers learned that the serial killer stalking the fictitious town of Salem is actually the sudser’s most prominent character, Dr. Marlena Evans.

Revelation came during the Jan. 28 telecast, which generated the show’s highest overnight ratings since December 2000, according to Nielsen Media Research fast nationals. Telecast drew a 4.1 rating/11 share.

Sudser saw ratings climb throughout the week of Jan. 19 as the “Salem Stalker” storyline neared its climax, with the show ranking No. 1 among women 18-49 (2.7 share/16 rating) for the first time in eight weeks, according to Nielsen. Show continued to rank No. 1 in women 18-34 (3.0/18).

Actress Deidre Hall, one of the most popular daytime actresses, has played the role of Dr. Marlena Evans for more than 20 years.

Fueled by the plot twist, NBC daytime’s two-hour lineup came in No. 1 among women 18-49 (2.3/11), topping ABC (2.0/12) and CBS (1.8/11) and matching its biggest margin of victory in 10 months.

ABC’s average includes three hours of dramas and yakker “The View.” CBS’ average includes 3½ hours of soaps and “The Price Is Right.” NBC’s daytime lineup consists of only two hours of sudsers.

In other dayparts, NBC News’ Sunday morning gabber “Meet the Press” beat out the competish with its pre-New Hampshire primary coverage for the week ended Jan. 25, averaging 5 million viewers.

CBS News’ Sunday ayem “Face the Nation With Bob Schieffer” continued its winning streak over ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” in total viewers (3.5 million vs. 3.1 million). Fox television’s “News Sunday” with Chris Matthews averaged 1.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen. In the key news demo of adults 25-54, “Meet” drew a 1.3 rating; “Face,” 1.1; “This Week,” 1.0; and “News Sunday,” 0.6.

On the latenight sked, CBS’ “Late Night With David Letterman” posted double-digit year-to-year growth across all categories during the week of Jan. 19, according to Nielsen.

Still, NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” continued to beat “Letterman” in total viewers (6.2 million vs. 4.5 million) and in the key demos, including adults 18-49 (2.2 vs. 1.7).

“Letterman,” which lost ground last fall, was up 12% in total viewers compared to the same week last year, according to Nielsen. Show was up 21% in adults 18-49 and up 30% in adults 18-34.

Kids’ WB rebounded into second place in the Saturday ayem arena, displacing Disney to third place.

According to Nielsen, the Tadpole brought in over a million kids 2-11 on Jan. 24 but was still down 20% compared to the same period last year. Nick led the pack with almost 2 million kid viewers but was off 8% from last year. With a 2.3/10, only Disney posted increased numbers from year-ago levels, up 12%.

For the morning, Disney’s “Recess” continued to move up the ladder, settling into sixth place among kids 2-11. Tadpole’s “Yu-gi-oh” and “Static Shock” were the two other non-Nick offerings to break into the top 10.

Season to date, roster was dominated by Nickelodeon’s double runs of “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Fairly OddParents” and “Jimmy Neutron.” Kids’ WB’s “Ozzy & Drix,” “Yu-gi-oh” and “Pokemon” round out the top 10.

(Lily Oei contributed to this report.)

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