Hoops help CBS close gap with Fox

CBS slam-dunked the competish last week, as college basketball’s national championship game towered over everything else in primetime. The Eye has now finished ahead of Fox for three straight weeks in the key young-adults demo, closing the season-to-date gap with the leader.

The hoops game especially stood out in a frame that saw depressed viewing levels due to holidays and spring break. Even some hit shows that aired originals in the frame, like CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” couldn’t avoid hitting season lows.

NBC comedy “Best Friends Forever” opened to nothing-special scores on Wednesday, ABC’s “Scandal” didn’t look too juicy in its Thursday preem, and Fox’s rookie drama “The Finder” couldn’t locate too many viewers in its tough new Friday 8 o’clock timeslot.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for April 2-8, CBS was on top in the adults 18-49 demo with a 2.5 rating/8 share, followed by Fox (2.1/6), ABC (1.8/5).

For the season, CBS now trails Fox by a little over a tick in adults 18-49 (3.09 vs. 3.22), but that may be too big a mountain to climb, especially with the “American Idol” finale still in Fox’s back pocket and CBS airing some of its season finales earlier this year.

Roughly the same gap exists between third-place NBC and ABC (2.57 to 2.44), with the Peacock trying to finish ahead of one of its Big Four brethren for the first time in eight years. A tie is a real possibility since the final Nielsen averages are still given in tenths, not hundredths, of a ratings point.

Looking at CBS last week, Kentucky’s victory over Kansas in the college hoops title game Monday averaged a healthy 7.6 rating/20 share in adults 18-49 and 20.87 million viewers overall, up a bit vs. last year.

Also of note was Thursday rookie “Person of Interest” (3.0/8, 13.69m) beating an original “Grey’s Anatomy” (2.8/8, 8.19m) in 18-49 for the first time. Net also claimed the night’s top series in 18-49 on Thursday with “Big Bang Theory” (4.4/15, 13.29m), Friday with “Undercover Boss” (1.8/7, 7.82m) and Sunday with “The Amazing Race” (2.5/7, 9.18m).

Fox was paced by “American Idol,” whose Wednesday seg (4.9/14, 17.09m) topped NBC’s Monday singing competish, “The Voice” (4.1/11, 10.83m), for a fourth straight week. Otherwise it was pretty quiet, with “Bones” looking solid on Monday (2.5/7, 8.39m) but spinoff “The Finder” struggling in its first Friday outing (1.1/4, 4.03m).

At ABC, Thursday drama “Scandal” had a decent debut (2.0/6, 7.33m), getting the tough task of opening in the holiday frame.

“Body of Proof” won its Tuesday hour (2.0/5, 10.51m), drawing its largest overall aud in nearly a year.

And on Sunday, new comedy “GCB” (1.9/5, 5.22m) matched its rating of the previous week, when it had a “Desperate Housewives” lead-in; this week, a special 9 p.m. original episode of itself served as a lead-in to “GCB” (1.7/4, 5.25m).

NBC saw “The Voice” decline some more, but 10 p.m. drama “Smash” held steady (2.1/5, 6.03m). And one night later, the first “Voice” results show (3.2/9, 8.45m) led its 9 p.m. hour in 18-49 over ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” results show (2.8/7, 8.45m); the shows tied in 25-54 (4.0/9), and “Dancing” led easily in total viewers.

The Peacock’s “Celebrity Apprentice” (2.1/6, 6.52m) was one of the only shows to grow week to week, winning its second hour Sunday in demos.

CW saw only slight week-to-week increases for the series finale of “One Tree Hill” (0.8/2, 1.43m), which wrapped after nine seasons on the WB and then CW.

Among cablers, USA set the pace in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers, led by “WWE Raw” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 5.07m), week’s top cable program.

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