Country Music, College Hoops and 'Big

Eye net dominates the weekend with specials and also claims the week's No. 1 series

Country music and college basketball put CBS on top of the weekly primetime ratings race, as the specials dominated the weekend. Both shows were also up vs. last year — the latest example of the lure of live events in a DVR world.

The Academy of Country Music Awards and the men’s tourney semifinal were two of nine CBS programs among the week’s top 25 in the 18-49 demo — more than any other network — even though the net’s Monday and Tuesday lineups aired repeats. Its “The Big Bang Theory” ruled as the week’s No. 1 series in most categories.

The first week of April also saw ABC get pretty good sampling for its new comedy “How to Live With Your Parents,” an acceptable premiere score for NBC drama “Hannibal” and soft demo numbers for CBS rookie “Vegas” as it moved to Friday.

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for April 1-7, CBS rolled with a 2.7 rating/8 share in adults 18-49, well ahead of NBC and Fox (which tied at 1.7/5), ABC (1.6/5) and Univision (1.5/4). CBS also won with ease in adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Sunday’s telecast of the ACMs averaged a strong 4.3/11 in 18-49 and 15.50 million viewers overall, up 39% in adults 18-49 vs. last year for the event’s best demo score in 12 years and the show’s largest overall audience in 15 years.

The ACMs out-rated the same season’s Country Music Association Awards for the first time since 1988, though the latter ABC kudocast from November opposed original sweeps competition while the ACMs faced many repeats. In the three prior years, the CMAs rated a full 1.5 ratings point higher than the rival ACMs.

Saturday’s NCAA men’s basketball game between Michigan and Syracuse was the week’s No. 1 program in 18-49 (5.7/18, 17.10m), the best result for the primetime semifinal in eight years. And on Monday of the current week, the championship game between Michigan and Louisville (8.4/22, 23.43m) soared 11% above last year’s Kansas-Kentucky matchup.

CBS also had the week’s No. 1 series in 18-49 (5.2/17) and total viewers (17.24m) with “The Big Bang Theory,” as fans welcomed back the comedy after a two-week break for basketball. Lead-out “Two and a Half Men” retained a good chunk of that lead-in to win its half-hour (3.9/12, 13.71m) and rank seventh for the week in 18-49.

On Friday, the timeslot premiere of “Vegas” (0.9/3, 7.67m) sagged between “Undercover Boss” (1.7/6 in 18-49, 8.52m) and “Blue Bloods” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 10.99m) as the rookie’s renewal hopes took a hit.

Elsewhere last week, NBC moved up to a tie for second — its first finish above either ABC, CBS or Fox since the week of the Golden Globes in mid-January — thanks largely to great numbers for “The Voice.” The music contest finished behind only “The Big Bang Theory” among all series for the week in 18-49 with its editions on Monday (4.7/13, 13.31m) and Tuesday (4.5/14, 13.93m).

The net’s top scripted program was rookie drama “Revolution” (2.2/6, 6.36m), though it hit a low and was down 15% from the previous week’s midseason premiere following a four-month break.

NBC’s premiere of Bryan Fuller drama “Hannibal” did decently on Thursday (1.6/5, 4.36m), building on its mild lead-in from “Go On” (1.1/3, 2.45m) and faring better than either “Rock Center” or “Do No Harm” in the hour earlier this season.

And “The New Normal” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.46 million viewers at 9 p.m. and 1.4/4, 3.39 million at 9:30), benefiting from a “Voice” lead-in, wrapped its season with week-to-week gains; its status for next season is up in the air.

While “The Voice” ranked third and fourth for the week in 18-49, Fox’s “American Idol” ranked ninth and tenth as it continues to look mortal in its 12th season. It was down another tick on Wednesday (3.1/9 in 18-49, 11.76 million viewers overall) and was beaten head-to-head by ABC’s “Modern Family” for the first time.

The net aired special episodes of “New Girl” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 4.77 million viewers) and “The Mindy Project” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 3.24 million viewers) on Thursday behind “Idol” (2.9/9 in 18-49, 11.72 million viewers), perhaps as a test for the fall. They beat their NBC comedy counterparts in the hour, “The Office” and “Go On.”

At ABC, Wednesday picked up steam as “Modern Family” (4.2/11, 10.88m) rallied from its recent slump, perhaps energized by the arrival of 9:30 p.m. skedmate “How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life” (2.9/8, 8.44m), whose premiere logged the net’s best score in the slot in five months. And that in turn lifted “Nashville” (1.7/5, 5.54m) closing out the night.

Net had another good Thursday from 9 to 11 p.m., with dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 8.58 million viewers overall) and “Scandal” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 8.04 million viewers overall). And on Friday, “Shark Tank” hit a five-month high (2.1/7 in 18-49, 7.04 million viewers overall) and “20/20″ had its best scores since September (1.8/6, 5.70m), handily beating its NBC newsmag competitor “Rock Center” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.32 million).

Not clicking too well for ABC were the 8 p.m. unscripted series “Splash” on Tuesday (1.4/4, 5.75m) and “Wife Swap” on Thursday (1.3/4, 4.01m).

A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” was the week’s dominant cable program in both adults 18-49 (3.7/10) and total viewers (8.38 million.

TBS’ second-season preem of “Men at Work” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 1.69m) was down from its series premiere of last year but on par with the show’s first-season finale.

Also of note, A&E’s “Bates Motel” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.82m) continues to hold up well and was rewarded with a second-season renewal. Ditto for History’s “The Vikings” (1.2/3, 3.31m).

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 4.27m) nearly matched its record-setting premiere of last week and was the top-rated scripted cable program. AMC’s “Mad Men” (1.1/3, 3.37m) opened its sixth season down slightly from last year. And Showtime’s “Shameless” finale (0.9/2 in 18-49, 1.82m) was up about 25% from last season.

It wasn’t a great week for FX dramas, as “Justified” (0.7/2, 2.25m) wrapped its third season Tuesday down more than 25% vs. last year in the demo, and on Wednesday, “The Americans” hit a low (0.4/1, 1.38m) and may have been hurt by taking a week off. Animated comedy “Archer” remains a bright spot on Thursday (0.9/2, 1.30m), building on its lead-in from “Anger Management” (0.4/1, 1.02m) and standing as cable’s No. 1 show of the night in men 18-34 (1.8/6).

TOP NETWORKS FOR WEEK

Total Viewers
CBS, 11.26 million; ABC, 6.70m; NBC, 5.24m; Fox, 5.15m; Univision, 3.61m; USA, 2.73m; Disney, 2.48m; A&E, 1.86m; History, 1.79m; TBS, 1.77m

Adults 18-49
CBS, 3.41 million (2.7/8); NBC, 2.12m (1.7/5); Fox, 2.09m (1.7/5); ABC, 2.02m; Univision, 1.85m; TBS, 0.98m; USA, 0.97m; A&E, 0.84; Adult Swim, 0.75m; TNT, 0.73m

Adults 25-54
CBS, 4.24 million (3.6/9); ABC, 2.50m (2.1/5); NBC, 2.46m (2.1/5); Fox, 2.41m (2.0/5); Univision, 1.76m (1.5/4); USA, 1.03m; TBS, 0.97m; A&E, 0.92m; History, 0.82m; TNT, 0.76m

TOP PROGRAMS OF THE WEEK

Total Viewers
1)  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 17.24 million
2)  NCAA Men’s Basketball semis: Syracuse-Michigan (CBS), 17.10m
3)  Academy of Country Music Awards (CBS), 15.51m
4)  Person of Interest (CBS), 14.57m
5)  Dancing With the Stars-Tue. (ABC), 13.98m
6)  The Voice-Tue. (NBC), 13.93m
7)  Dancing With the Stars-Mon. (ABC), 13.91m
8)  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 13.71m
9)  The Voice-Mon. (NBC), 13.31m
10)  Castle (ABC), 11.79m
11)  American Idol-Wed. (Fox), 11.76m
12)  American Idol-Thu. (Fox), 11.72m
13)  NCIS (CBS), 11.15m
14)  Blue Bloods (CBS), 10.99m
15)  Modern Family (ABC), 10.88m
16)  Criminal Minds (CBS), 10.79m
17)  Elementary (CBS), 10.48m
18)  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 10.16m
19)  CSI (CBS), 9.89m
20)  60 Minutes (CBS), 9.52m
21)  Survivor (CBS), 9.25m
22)  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 8.58m
23)  Body of Proof (ABC), 8.56m
24)  Undercover Boss (CBS), 8.52m
25)  How to Live With Your Parents (ABC), 8.44m

Adults 18-49
1)  NCAA men’s basketball semifinals: Syracuse-Michigan (CBS), 5.7/18
2)  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 5.2/17
3)  The Voice-Mon. (NBC), 4.7/13
4)  The Voice-Tue. (NBC), 4.5/14
5)  Academy of Country Music Awards (CBS), 4.3/11
6)  Modern Family (ABC), 4.2/11
7)  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 3.9/12
8)  Duck Dynasty (A&E), 3.7/10
9)  American Idol-Wed. (Fox), 3.1/9
10)  American Idol-Thu. (Fox), 2.9/9
10)  How to Live With Your Parents (ABC), 2.9/9
12)  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 2.8/8
12)  Criminal Minds (CBS), 2.8/7
14)  Person of Interest (CBS), 2.7/8
15)  Scandal (ABC), 2.6/8
16)  Survivor (CBS), 2.5/8
17)  Dancing With the Stars-Tue. (ABC), 2.3/6
17.  Game of Thrones (HBO), 2.3/6
19.  Dancing With the Stars-Mon. (ABC), 2.2/6
19.  Castle (ABC), 2.2/6
19.  The Following (Fox), 2.2/6
19.  Revolution (NBC), 2.2/6
23.  Shark Tank (ABC), 2.1/7
23.  Elementary (CBS), 2.1/6
23.  CSI (CBS), 2.1/6

SEASON-TO-DATE

Total Viewers: ABC, 7.86 million (down 5%); CBS, 12.16m (up 1%); NBC, 7.07m (down 7%); Fox, 7.10m (down 7%)
4-nets: 34.19 million (down 7%)
CW, 1.82m (up 4%); Telemundo, 1.31m (up 6%); Univision, 3.74m (up 4%)

Adults 18-49: ABC, 2.3/6 (down 5%); CBS, 3.0/8 (down 3%); NBC, 2.4/7 (down 8%); Fox, 2.5/7 (down 22)%
4-nets: 10.2/28 (down 10%)
CW, 0.7/2 (down 13%); Telemundo, 0.6/2 (up 20%); Univision, 1.5/4 (Even)

Adults 25-54: ABC, 2.8/7 (down 10%); CBS, 3.9/10 (down 5%); NBC, 2.9/7 (down 3%); Fox, 2.9/7 (down 22%)
4-nets: 12.5/31 (down 9%)
CW, 0.8/2 (Even); Telemundo, 0.6/1 (up 20%); Univision, 1.6/4 (up 7%)

Adults 18-34: ABC, 1.7/6 (down 6%); CBS, 2.0/7 (Even); NBC (1.9/6, down 10%); Fox, 2.3/8 (down 18%)
4-nets: 7.9/27 (down 9%)
CW, 0.7/2 (down 13%); Telemundo, 0.5/2 (down 17%); Univision, 1.3/4 (down 19%)

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