ABC bounces past NBC’s b’ball to score ratings win

While NBC made headlines with its coverage of the NBA playoffs and CBS shook up the evening news race by adding Connie Chung to its anchor desk, ABC quietly snuck into first for the prime time Nielsen week of May 31-June 6.

NBC scored a massive 32% year-to-year ratings increase with the semi-final round of pro basketball’s NBA playoffs, and also soared to the second- and third-highest ratings ever for NBA non-championship-round games with Wednesday’s and Friday’s Chicago Bulls-New York Knicks telecasts.

Still, the Peacock couldn’t rebound out of last place for the week as Saturday preemptions for the “Children’s Miracle Network” telethon doomed NBC to its worst Saturday share in more than 11 years (since Jan. 16, 1982, when the net aired a “Project Peacock” kidspec and a Caruso “Live From Studio 8H” program). Sunday also saw NBC equal its worst share on that night since May 31, 1992.

In the week’s evening-newscast race, the addition of Chung to the CBS anchor desk boosted the Eye network to its second-closest finish this calendar year behind news leader ABC (winner of 191 of the last 193 weeks). ABC’s newscast scored a five-night 9.6 rating, 21 share, compared to CBS’ 8.7/19. NBC fell far behind with its worst rating since July 1-5, 1991, a 6.9/15, in part due to early coverage in the west of the NBA playoffs.

Despite all of this high-profile action at the competition, ABC won the week, its biggest gun being “Police Academy 6,” which captured the Alphabet net’s second-strongest Sunday-pic share in 21 weeks.

NBC ran a close second for the week starting May 31 in the important adults 18-49 demographic. Those seven-night averages were: ABC, a 6.2/19; NBC, 5.9/18; CBS, 4.5/14; Fox Broadcasting Co., 4.0/13. NBC has now run no worse than second by this measure for eight weeks in a row.


NBC has taken the early lead in current-week results, winning Monday with the rerun telefilm “She Says She’s Innocent” (14.0/24). That’s the fourth NBC Monday pic in a row to win the 9-11 p.m. race.

CBS’ increasingly vulnerable lineup has won just two of the last nine Mondays and was third for Monday of this week.

ABC got good news from its first try with “Day One” in its intended fall 8-9 p.m. Monday timeslot. “Day” equaled ABC’s best share there in the last nine weeks, reporting a 9.7/17.


CBS held off ABC in households, despite running third 9-11 p.m. with the Tony Awards.

The Tonys finished down 2% from its 1992 rating, making this the second-worst Tony rating in the last 12 years and probably ever, ahead of only 1990’s feeble 7.6/13.

ABC more than tripled the 9-11 p.m. Tony audience with its “Police Academy 6” among adults 18-49 and won the night in that demographic by 7 shares over runner-up NBC.

“Quantum Leap” was a disaster for NBC in the 7 p.m. hour.

Rushed in as a substitute because there was no seventh game of the Knicks-Bulls series, “Leap” crashed to NBC’s worst share that hour since a pair of “Mark & Brian” episodes ran there May 31, 1992.


The nets were embarrassed on Saturday, as the Children’s Miracle Telethon decimated clearances.

CBS managed to win the night in households but Fox never ran worse than second for its two hours and prevailed in the key adults 18-49 demographic by a stunning 8 shares.

CBS managed to lead in households thanks to the rerun telefilm “With Murder in Mind,” which, despite a weak 87% clearance, equaled the Eye web’s second-best share in that timeslot in the last nine weeks.


NBC had won just one Friday out of the last 41 before Chicago Bulls-N.Y. Knicks basketball elbowed ABC’s lineup out of the way last week.

That game-six coverage equaled the highest prime time basketball share since June 12, 1991 (the deciding game of that year’s Bulls-Lakers final, a 19.7/36).


NBC, winner of six Thursdays in a row, fell into a tie with ABC in households last week as the Peacock benched “Cheers” and “Seinfeld” for Phoenix-Seattle basketball. But ABC still ran 4 shares behind among adults 18-49.

With some of the stronger Thursday shooters being rested, Fox’s “The Simpsons” enjoyed its easiest slot victory in 13 weeks, “Martin” took its half-hour for the first time in 11 weeks and even ABC’s rerun vidpic “I’ll Take Romance” tied for first in households for its two-hour time period.


NBC won just its second Wednesday in 19 weeks thanks to a Bulls-Knicks game that hit pro basketball’s second-highest rating since June 1991 and second-highest ever for a non-championship-round game (behind only the Knicks-Boston Celtics broadcast from April 27, 1973).

The Wednesday contest also equaled the rating of game one of last October’s baseball World Series and outscored seven of eight preliminary-round baseball telecasts from last fall.

CBS nearly stole second for the night when the Christina Ferrare-hosted consumer-scam spec “Shame on You!” led the Wednesday 8-9 p.m. hour, CBS’ first victory there since the Grammys Feb. 24. Still, ABC was second for the night among adults 18-49 by a comfortable 5 shares.


ABC prevailed with solid numbers for the “World Music Awards.” The 13.8/23 is not competitive with such rival music kudocasts as the American Music Awards (21 .6/33) and the Grammys (20.0/31), but it does put this new entry immediately into the same league as last year’s Primetime Emmys (13.9/24).

Fox is trying to shake things up on Tuesday with “Beverly Hills, 90210” and managed its second-best share in that hour in six weeks, as well as Fox’s first Tuesday hour out of fourth place. Otherwise, the message remains that the weblet has yet to establish itself on this night.


“Fresh Prince,””Blossom” and the rerun vidpic “Don’t Touch My Daughter” grabbed the night for NBC (Daily Variety, June 3).

Each rating point represents an estimated 931,000 households, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. The share is the same sort of percentage, except that it’s measured against only the households watching TV during the timeslot involved.