CBS eyeing sweeps win

The Peacock web preened on the final night of the November sweep, Nov. 26, but CBS is poised to take bragging rights today for its first sweeps victory in households and total viewers in three years.

The race was too close to call definitively last week before the Thanksgiving holiday break, but CBS is expected to eke out a win, perhaps by one-tenth of a ratings point, in households and total viewers. Final Nielsen numbers for Nov. 26 and the entire sweeps period (Oct. 30-Nov. 26) will be released today.

NBC is sure to maintain a comfortable lead in the all-important adults 18-49 demographic category, where CBS remains in last place among the Big Four webs. Fox made great strides during this past ratings period, which determine advertising rates for local TV stations, in challenging ABC for the No. 2 spot with the 18-49 crowd. As of Nov. 25, NBC was averaging a 6.9/18 in adults 18-49 to Fox’s 6.1/16, followed by ABC (5.5/14) and CBS (4.4/11).

In households, the pecking order through Nov. 25 was CBS with 10.4/17, NBC at 10.2/16, ABC with 9.3/15 and Fox with 8.1/13. Compared with their respective showings last November, Fox’s numbers were up 3%, CBS inched up 2%, ABC was down 8% and NBC was off 10%.

In the battle of the 2-year-old weblets, UPN still has the edge with a 3.9/5 in households and a 1.9/5 in adults 18-49, but the WB Network posted its best sweeps performance ever with a 3.0/5 in households and a 1.6/4 in the key demo.

CBS’ momentum was powered in part by the strength of its two-part miniseries “Bella Mafia” and the unexpectedly strong perf last week of the latest “Hallmark Hall of Fame” made-for, “What the Deaf Man Heard,” which weighed in as the highest-rated telefilm since 1991. Fox made headway with reality and un-reality specs, especially the revealing “Breaking the Magician’s Code,” which actually outrated ABC’s “Monday Night Football.”

On the last night of the networks’ November sweepstakes, NBC also put its regular Wednesday sitcom lineup behind smoke and mirrors, scoring a 9.9 household rating and 17 share for the night with the two-hour “World’s Greatest Magic IV” special, followed by “Law & Order.”

ABC, which usually takes the Wednesday crown, came in second with a 9.2/16 with its regular comedy series lineup of “Spin City,” “Dharma & Greg,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “Ellen,” followed by an installment of “Prime Time Live.”

With its eye on the total viewers prize, CBS also pulled a last-minute schedule shift, benching “The Nanny,” “Murphy Brown” and its Bryant Gumbel-hosted newsmag “Public Eye” for a “Candid Camera” spec and a rerun of the crowd-pleasing “Touched By an Angel” with a “Chicago Hope” chaser. All told, CBS earned an 8.8/15. Fox pulled a 7.0/12 from 8-10 p.m. with the 1993 baseball flick “Rookie of the Year.”

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