'Rockin' Eve' special boosts night's perennial leader

Forty years on, Dick Clark and ABC are still packing in television audiences on New Year’s Eve — racking up their third straight year of viewership gains.

The Alphabet devoted all of primetime to New Year’s festivities, including a two-hour clips show of past musical performances, and that momentum only boosted the net’s ratings fortunes as the ball dropped in New York at midnight. ABC beat the combined ratings deliveries of its Big Four rivals on the night.

According to preliminary Nielsen estimates, ABC’s two-hour spec “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve: The 40th Anniversary Party” averaged a 2.4 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 8.3 million viewers overall — easily beating the combined output for repeat programming on ABC, CBS and NBC. Show built with each half-hour, peaking at 9:30 p.m. with a 3.3/12 in the demo and 10.5 million total viewers.

And then the usual 10-11 p.m. portion of ABC’s Dec. 31 festivities, “Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest,” averaged a big 4.1/15 in 18-49 and 12.9 million viewers overall — up by 46% in the demo and by 3.7 million total viewers vs. last year for the special’s biggest numbers since it premiered in 2000.

In that 10 p.m. hour, ABC drew more than four times the rating for NBC’s competing 10 p.m. program, “New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly” (prelim 0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.0 million).

Overall, ABC enjoyed its highest-rated primetime Saturday in more than two years — since college football’s Big 12 Championship game in December 2009.

From 11:30 p.m. to 1:15 a.m., “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” averaged a huge 7.4 rating in adults 18-49 22.6 million viewers — ABC’s top scores for any entertainment telecast since the Academy Awards last winter.

Detailed info wasn’t available for ABC’s competition, but NBC’s “New Year’s Eve with Carson Daly” averaged a 4.3 household rating/10 share in the metered-market overnights from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., and Fox’s new entry, “American Country New Year’s Eve,” did a 2.0/4 from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. — both well behind ABC’s special, which did a 10.7/26.

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