For a second year in a row, ABC has scored a Christmas week primetime Nielsens victory despite the lowest regular-season weeklong average in its history.
Leading the surprise ABC win was a three-hour rerun of “Hook,” which snagged the net’s most competitive Thursday performance of the season.
NBC held on to first in the adults 18-49 demo, making it 14 wins in the season’s first 15 weeks in that key demo. Last week’s adults 25-54 crown also went to NBC, while ABC inched ahead in total viewers.
As usual, viewership plunged during Christmas week, dragging the nets to some all-time record lows. NBC joined ABC with its lowest-rated regular-season week ever, while CBS had its third-lowest-rated in-season week. The three-net rating also sunk to an all-time regular-season low.
Fox, meanwhile, equaled its lowest in-season week since Sept. 17-23, 1990; UPN hit a season low and WB equaled its worst week, regular-season or otherwise, since Sept. 11-17, 1995.
Yule-themed rerun vidpix delivered a Christmas-night win to CBS and a tie for first Christmas Eve, allowing the Eye to finish tied for second in households last week, just a tenth of a point out of first.
The Dec. 23-29 adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, a 5.2 rating, 15 share (down in rating by 10% compared to re-sults for the same week last year, which did not include Christmas Eve); ABC, 4.9/15 (down 11%); Fox, 3.8/11 (even); CBS, 3.7/11 (up 3%); UPN, 1.6/5 (up 14%); WB, 1.2/3 (even).
On Monday of this week, ABC faced life after football and still managed a nightlong win with the Kellie Martin-JoBeth Williams vidpic “Breaking Through” (11.8 rating, 20 share). That film finished 10 shares behind what “Monday Night Football” averaged this season among adults 18-49.
At 8 p.m., ABC’s “Dangerous Minds” (7.2/12), always a mismatch with football, rose to its third-best rating of the season in its first try after the “MNF” s eason.
Fox edged CBS to win the night among adults 18-49, while CBS triumphed in homes and adults 25-54. The Eye’s “Die Hard 2” dominated the three-net Sunday pic race in the 18-49 demo, CBS’ second win in that competition since June 16.
With no football in the 7-8 p.m. hour for the first time this season, “Dateline NBC” finished a mere 2 shares be-hind “60 Minutes” in CBS’ target demo, adults 25-54.
Fox’s “Married, With Children” grabbed the 7-8 p.m. hour in adults 18-49 and a three-year-old episode of “The X-Files” swept all key demos in the 9-10 p.m. hour. At 8:30, though, “Ned and Stacey” held a season-low 65% of its 18-49 leadin from “The Simpsons.”
The feature “Dennis the Menace” helped NBC slingshot past CBS for the Peacock’s latest family-pic holiday-weekend Saturday win. “Dennis” pestered “Dr. Quinn” and “Early Edition,” sending them to their lowest regular-season ratings ever.
Fox got clobbered by its “Bravo Awards,” which collapsed to the weblet’s worst rating in that slot since June 16, 1990, in the days of “Open House” and “Tracey Ullman.” Fox gave up 7 shares that hour vs. what it averages with “America’s Most Wanted.”
ABC controlled this rerun-plagued night. NBC and Fox failed to challenge among adults 18-49 due to lethargic perfs from NBC’s special “Profiler” (which equaled the Peacock’s worst 18-49 share this season in that slot) and a rerun of Fox’s “Millennium,” third in its hour among adults 18-49.
NBC beat ABC’s “Hook” by 10 shares among adults 18-49, the Peacock’s thinnest Thursday win since the World Series. “ER” sagged to its lowest in-season rating ever and “Seinfeld” hit its lowest in-season, regular-slot score since moving to Thursdays in February ’93.
NBC’s special “Men Behaving Badly” held 80% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Seinfeld,” down from the 85% average of slot regular “Suddenly Susan.”
CBS’s “Kennedy Center Honors” accepted its best rating in three years, up 25% over last year’s worst-ever marks.
CBS’s older-skewing lineup took the night in households, giving the Eye its first Wednesday win since the Country Music Assn. Awards Oct. 2, but the Eye ran third in adults 18-49, 5 shares behind leader ABC.
NBC’s Chi-Detroit NBA hoopcast improved by a stunning 83% over the last comparable Christmas game, 1994’s Michael Jordan-less New York-Chicago matchup; however, this year’s Yule game was down 17% from 1993’s Or-lando-Chicago showdown, also Jordan-less.
CBS tied ABC in homes for a second-straight Tuesday, though the Eye again skewed older, finishing 5 shares behind in adults 18-49.
Among series suffering lowest-ever ratings this Christmas Eve were “Home Improvement,” “Roseanne,” “Frasier” and “Mad About You.” In fact, the only series not to hit lowest-ever levels were “NYPD Blue” and “Dateline NBC.”
The rate of homes using TV plunged on Christmas Eve to 41.2% of the country, down from the previous Tuesday’s 62.5%.
“Monday Night Football” limped to the close of a tough season that demonstrated how much the NFL has become dependent on the Dallas Cowboys for its appeal.
This season, “MNF” games featuring Dallas averaged a 12.8 rating among adults 18-49 (up 17% over 1995’s “MNF” Dallas games), but this year’s non-Dallas telecasts averaged a listless 9.1, down 7% from last year’s non-Dallas “MNF” matchups (even without including a ’96 gridcast that faced World Series competition).
Still, now that the “MNF” season is over, ABC is unlikely to even approach football levels with its upcoming slate of films, and ABC’s weeklong averages will probably drop as a result.
Each rating point represents an estimated 970,000 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 in which TV is being watched during the timeslot involved.