But cable comes on strong with 'Bible,' 'Duck' and 'Dead'

Fox and CBS led the broadcast pack in primetime last week in a frame that saw nothing really pop — and the ratings for some shows drifting downward to lows.

Meanwhile, Daylight Saving Time, which annually signals the start of even lower ratings, is just around the corner.

During the Feb. 25-March 3 sesh, for the first time in an in-season, non-holiday week, no broadcast series achieved a 4 same-night rating in adults 18-49. Fox’s “American Idol” continues to trend down, slipping under the 4 rating threshold for the first time since its inaugural season in the summer of 2002, while CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” which has consistently topped a 5 demo rating, was in repeat.

Cable had a big week, with “The Walking Dead” ruling as the No. 1 show in 18-49. It was joined in the demo top 10 by A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” and History’s opening night of miniseries “The Bible.”

Overall, according to Nielsen estimates that include same-night DVR playback, Fox led in adults 18-49 with a 2.2 rating/6 share, followed by CBS (1.9/5), ABC (1.6/5), Univision (1.5/4) and NBC (1.2/4) — the Peacock’s fifth consecutive fifth-place finish. CBS prevailed easily in total viewers (9.1 million to 6.6 million for Fox), with the nets tying in adults 25-54 (2.6/7).

Also of note, Telemundo had its biggest average weeknight audience of the season (more than 1.6 million), as novela “La Patrona” (The Return) averaged 2.42 million and a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49.

At Fox, “American Idol” remained in the top 5 but hit season lows on both Wednesday (3.9/11 in 18-49, 13.30m) and Thursday (3.8/11. 12/56m); and it was telling on Thursday that it couldn’t gain over the prior week despite facing repeats of the top shows on the competition this time around.

Also for the net, “The Following” remains potent on Monday (2.8/7, 8.58m), and Tuesday laffer “The Mindy Project” (1.7/4, 3.26m) again retained more than 70% of its “New Girl” lead-in; “Following” and “Mindy,” both first-year shows, were just renewed by Fox for next season.

CBS was led by Tuesday’s “NCIS” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 20.69m), the week’s most-watched program overall and the No. 1 broadcast drama in adults 18-49. And following spinoff “NCIS: Los Angeles” (2.9/8, 17.02m), cop drama “Golden Boy” opened to unexciting numbers (1.8/5, 10.56m) — winning the hour in key categories but losing audience with each quarter-hour.

The Eye had five of the week’s top six comedies in 18-49, led by Monday anchors “How I Met Your Mother” (3.3/10 in 18-49, 8.59m) and “2 Broke Girls” (3.3/8, 10.41m).

ABC started the week on a winning note Monday with “The Bachelor” (2.9/8, 9.23m) and “Castle” (2.3/6, 10.77m) but closed modestly Sunday with lows for “Once Upon a Time” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7.39m) and the premiere of “Red Widow” (1.5/4, 7.13m).

The season premiere of “Celebrity Wife Swap” looked solid on Tuesday (2.4/7, 7.05m), but Thursday drama “Zero Hour” (1.0/3, 5.05m) fell in its third week and was canceled soon thereafter.

NBC was led by “The Biggest Loser” (2.2/6, 5.75m), but its best news came Wednesday when rookie “Chicago Fire” (2.0/6, 6.62m) won its hour in 18-49 for the first time over an original of CBS’ “CSI” (1.9/5, 9.44m).

Sunday’s return of “Celebrity Apprentice” (1.7/4, 5.15m) was well down from last year, but it beat ABC and CBS in 18-49 for the 10 p.m. hour. And “Smash” continues to struggle in its Tuesday hour (0.9/3, 3.04m).

Top scores for CW, in a week when “The Vampire Diaries” aired a repeat, came from Wednesday dramas “Arrow” (1.0/3, 3.17m) and “Supernatural” (0.9/2, 2.13m). Not so hot was Tuesday newbie “Cult” (0.3/1, 0.82m), which has now been banished to Friday.

Cable highlights included a great start for History miniseries “The Bible” (3.3/8 in 18-49, 13.10m) and the net’s first original series, “The Vikings” (2.0/5, 6.21m), which became the year’s top new cable series (Daily Variety, March 5).

At AMC, nothing can stop “The Walking Dead” (5.7/14, 11.30m), which has consistently put up boffo numbers despite facing some of the year’s biggest programs.

A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” hit series — and network — highs with its third-season preem (3.9/12, 8.62m), on par for the week with broadcast biggies “American Idol” and “Modern Family.”

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