CBS, NBC tweak skeds in raging sweeps race

CBS and NBC, which are locked in one of the closest household November sweeps battles ever, are doing some 11th-hour fiddling to squeeze out as many rating points as they can.

After a fourth-place finish Wednesday night, CBS has pulled next Wednesday’s 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. lineup. At 8 p.m., CBS will air another “Candid Camera” special in place of “The Nanny” and “Murphy Brown.” At 9 p.m., the Eye web will run a special repeat of “Touched by an Angel,” guest-starring Bill Cosby, which originally aired in May. “Touched” replaces Bryant Gumbel’s newsmag “Public Eye.”

NBC is also running a two-hour “Dateline” tonight in place of the drama “Players” at 8 p.m., which will air instead on Saturday at 9 p.m. in place of the canceled drama “Sleepwalkers.”

What’s interesting about the battle is the fact that NBC virtually has a lock on the sweeps win in the key adults 18-49 demo, and household ratings mean little, if anything, in terms of revenue and ad dollars. CBS is a distant fourth place in the adults 18-49 sweeps game.

However, CBS and NBC both know there’s a public relations victory on the line. A CBS win — even in homes — would unsettle the Peacock web, which has been the decisive ratings winner for the past few seasons.

Sweeps-to-date through Wednesday night, CBS is leading in homes by two-tenths of a rating point, with a 10.2/16, while NBC trails with a 10.0/16. In adults 18-49, NBC leads with a 6.8, trailed by Fox’s 6.1, ABC’s 5.7 and CBS’ 4.3.

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