Eye marches to win

CBS scores with NCAA; 'Grey's' good for ABC

Buzzer-beaters and nail-biters on the hardwood floor helped CBS slam-dunk the competish in all key ratings categories last week.

In a sesh that also saw promising debuts for ABC drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and NBC comedy “The Office,” the Eye net rolled by dominating Friday, Saturday and the first hour of primetime on Sunday with the men’s college basketball tournament.

CBS (4.6 rating/13 share) ended the eight-week winning streak of Fox (4.3/12) in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen, while ABC (3.2/9) and NBC (3.1/8) were well off the pace. CBS and ABC were up more than 20% vs. the same frame a year ago, but NBC plunged by 26%.

Fox still leads for the season by a tick over CBS (4.1/11 vs. 4.0/11), although the Eye is a solid No. 1 when only regular programs are counted.

CBS also dominated the March 21-27 frame in adults 25-54 (5.3/13), key male demos and total viewers (13.9 million), while Fox prevailed as usual among the 12-34 crowd (3.7/12).

The Eye net scored Monday with “CSI: Miami” (6.5/17 in 18-49, 18.93m) and Wednesday with a special night of “Survivor: Palau” (7.3/19 in 18-49, 19.15 million viewers overall) but made up the most ground on the weekend with hoops.

Saturday’s overtime victory by Illinois over Arizona (5.0/17 in 18-49, 14.24m) dominated the night and was up 25% vs. the game in the same window a year ago; Sunday’s double-overtime game between Michigan State and Kentucky spilled over 68 minutes into primetime, crushing the competish in the 7 o’clock hour (8.1/25 in 18-49, 23.03m).

Friday’s Kentucky-Utah thriller (4.6/14 in 18-49, 11.85m) was also up 25% vs. last year’s comparable game.

Overall, the regional semifinals on Saturday and Sunday (with three of four games going to overtime) averaged 13.7 million viewers — up a big 44% vs. last year’s 9.5 million.

Oops! They did it again

At Fox, it took three nights to boot off the latest singer in the talent contest as a malfunction with phone numbers after Tuesday’s show (11.6/31 in 18-49, 27.60m) resulted in a do-over Wednesday episode (9.0/21, 20.89m) and pushed the weekly half-hour results show to Thursday (8.6/22 in 18-49, 20.17m). All three installments ranked among the week’s top five programs in 18-49.

Also looking good for the net were Tuesday drama “House” (6.8/17 in 18-49, 17.34m) and the solid Monday lineup of “Nanny 911” (3.7/10, 9.54m) and “24” (4.7/12, 11.55m). Surrounding the special “Idol” on Thursday were an above-average delivery for “The OC” (3.7/11, 8.59m) and a special preview episode of laffer “Life on a Stick” (4.0/10, 9.25m).

Friday’s “NAACP Image Awards” averaged a 1.4/5 in 18-49 and 4.36 million viewers overall. It was the week’s fourth most popular program among African-Americans, behind only the three editions of “American Idol.”

ABC was quiet for most of the week but made a lot of noise on Sunday with the first original episode in five weeks for “Desperate Housewives” (10.7/24 in 18-49, 24.08m) and a nice start for medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” (7.2/18, 16.25m), which held on to two-thirds of its “DH” lead-in (Daily Variety, March 28).

The Alphabet was also above average Saturday with the first two hours of limited-run series “Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 9.00m), and Tuesday cop drama “Blind Justice” held steady in its third week (3.6/10, 9.55m), winning its hour in male demos.

NBC didn’t have a whole lot to cheer about last week, but new laffer “The Office” (5.0/13 in 18-49, 11.23m) looked good in a special Thursday preview — despite being sandwiched between the lowest-rated firstrun scores to date for “The Apprentice” (4.8/13, 10.81m) and “ER” (6.5/17, 15.01m).

Although it placed ninth for the week and was NBC’s top show, “ER” was merely the frame’s No. 3 medical drama, lagging behind “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House.”

Also for NBC, “The Contender” is hanging in there (3.2/8 in 18-49, 7.02m), performing especially well among men 18-34 (3.8/11).

UPN again thumped the WB in adults 18-34 (1.4/4 vs. 1.0/3), led by “America’s Next Top Model” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 4.74m).

USA topped ad-supported cable nets for the week, paced by Sunday theatrical “The Mummy Returns” (2.1/5 in 18-49, 4.54m) and a solid start for Ving Rhames series “Kojak” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 4.52m).

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