Net wins week, looks ahead to series launches

Big ratings for the Oscars on Sunday lifted ABC to a rare primetime ratings victory last week and, the net hopes, should help kickstart its spring sked.

ABC doesn’t benefit from monster football ratings like the other nets, so it relies on its entertainment series and the one-time shot of the Oscars to provide a jolt. Sunday’s telecast of “The 84th Annual Academy Awards” averaged an 11.7 rating/27 share in adults 18-49 and 39.34 million viewers overall — nearly double the net’s highest-rated same-night demo score for any program this season (a 6.1 in premiere week for “Modern Family”).

And the Alphabet used the kudocast to shine a light on its midseason hopefuls, which will roll out beginning Sunday with “GCB” followed by Thursday dramas “Missing” and “Scandal” and Wednesday comedy “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23.”

ABC will need a good showing by one or two of them to catch or pass NBC and avoid falling into the basement for the season. The Peacock, aided by the Super Bowl and now with primetime’s top demo draw in “The Voice,” still holds a roughly 8% advantage on the Alphabet in adults 18-49 with nearly three months to go (2.68 rating to 2.49).

Overall for the week of Feb. 20-26, ABC won rather easily in adults 18-49 with a 3.2 rating/9 share, followed by Fox (2.4/6), CBS (2.3/6), NBC (1.8/5), TNT (1.5/4) and Univision (1.4/4). For a second straight week, NBC showed double-digit gains while Fox fell off by double digits.

ABC also prevailed in adults 25-54 (3.9/9 to 3.2/8 for CBS) and total viewers (10.7 million to 10.1 million for CBS).

For ABC, the Academy Awards virtually matched last year’s 18-49 score while growing 4% in total viewers (Daily Variety, Feb. 28). The show skewed older than usual (median age of 52.8 vs. 50.6 last year), faring best among key demos in women 25-54 (16.6 rating, up 7%) and worst in males 12-34 (6.2 rating, down 21%)

While the Oscars continue to under-index among African-Americans (making up less than 8% of its audience), viewership among blacks was up 20% year to year (2.96 million vs. 2.47 million).

Elsewhere for ABC last week, “Modern Family” (4.8/12, 11.54m) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.1/8, 9.06m) hit season lows, but since they are the leaders in full-week DVR playback this season, it’s hard to knock them too much. And Friday’s “Shark Tank” remained strong (1.8/6, 5.86m), bouncing back to match its series high in the demo for a regular episode.

Fox was down more than 30% from the same week a year ago (when it aired one extra hour of “American Idol”).

The music talent show posted more declines and is looking much more mortal in its 11th season. Wednesday’s two-hour seg (5.1/14, 16.10m) led the night but was merely the No. 3 series of the week in 18-49.

CBS claimed the week’s top scripted show in demos with “The Big Bang Theory” (5.3/16, 16.20m), which beat “American Idol” head to head by about 27%. Other standouts for the net included 10 p.m. dramas “Hawaii Five-0″ (2.9/7, 10.40m) and “CSI” (2.9/8, 11.91m) as well as Thursday rookie “Person of Interest” (3.1/8, 14.56m), which tied “Grey’s Anatomy” in 18-49 for the first time.

NBC had the week’s No. 1 series in 18-49 with Monday’s “The Voice” (6.0/15, 16.04m); the show following it, “Smash” (2.3/6, 6.47m), dropped off some more in its third week but stabilized on Monday of the current week despite a softer “Voice” lead-in.

On cable, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (3.8/9 in 18-49, 7.04m) was primetime’s No. 1 drama despite facing the Academy Awards. On the same night, the NBA All-Star Game on TNT (3.3/9, 7.07m) was down 17% in the demo and 22% in total viewers vs. last year when it aired the week before the Oscars; one day earlier, “NBA All-Star Saturday Night” dominated the night for TNT (2.9/9, 6.24m).

Discovery’s “Gold Rush” wrapped its second season on a strong note (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.06m) — standing as Friday’s No. 1 show in 18-49 as well as in all male demos; in men 18-49, it doubled up dramas “Grimm” and “Fringe” in men 18-34 (2.6/8 vs. 1.3/4).

The second annual “Hall of Game Awards” on Cartoon Network, hosted by Shaquille O’Neal, drew 2.59 million viewers Monday — including year-to-year gains of roughly 90% in boys 6-11 (to 886,000) and kids 2-11 (to 1.47 million).

Also Monday, VH1’s “Basketball Wives” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 2.54m) kicked off its fourth season by matching the franchise’s top demo score.

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