After six weeks of sharing or surrendering the primetime lead in households, NBC found its stride again last week, winning the Dec. 8-15 Nielsens chase by 2 shares in homes and 4 in adults 18-49.
Keys to the NBC rebound include a full slate of firstrun regulars on Thursday, a second dose of “Frasier” on Tuesday (after the previous week’s “Frasier”-less Tuesday sent NBC reeling) and an extra “Pretender” on Saturday that put the Peacock in control of that night.
Fox sneaked past ABC to grab second in adults 18-49 for the week, as “The Billboard Music Awards” won its Monday slot in that key demo and Fox’s Sunday lineup again dominated TV’s highest viewership night by that measure.
NBC moved back into the adults 18-49 lead last week after slipping behind ABC the previous week to suffer its first loss of the season (ABC previously had tied NBC once). Last week’s 18-49 averages were: NBC, a 6.5 rating, 18 share (up 2% vs. results for the same week last year); Fox, 5.2/14 (up 18%); ABC, 5.1/14 (up 6%); CBS, 3.8/10 (up 6%); UPN, 1.7/5 (down 6%); WB, 1.6/4 (up 33%).
CBS continues to stir things up in the evening news race, last week finishing second in homes ahead of ABC. The Eye web says that, together with the previous week’s first-place tie, this marks CBS’ most competitive two-week stretch in evening news (without Olympics disruptions) since September-October 1989.
Dec. 15 belonged to ABC and its Denver-San Francisco gridcast (18.0 rating, 31 share), the highest-rated “Monday Night Football” game since Nov. 18, 1996 (Green Bay-Dallas). Football even won the 9-11 p.m. segment among women 18-49, and ABC took the night by 10 shares in adults 18-49.
Among those sacked by the powerful Broncos-49ers broadcast were CBS’ “Brooklyn South” (5.3/9 in rerun, lowest rating yet) and NBC’s “The Naked Truth” (7.2/11, lowest regular-slot firstrun rating ever).
“Gregory Hines” (7.8/12) didn’t click in CBS’ Monday lineup, fum-bling 11% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Cosby” (9.7/16) in a slot where CBS usually sees gains. “Jenny” (6.9/11) fared no better that half-hour on NBC, dropping 13% of its 18-49 lead-in.
Fox led in adults 18-49 by a hefty 6 shares, as streaking sophomore “King of the Hill” built by 24% on its 18-49 lead-in from a rerun “Simpsons.”
CBS took second in adults 18-49 and 25-54 and swept the night in homes. The Eye is embarrassing the Sunday film competition, having won that battle among adults 18-49 three of the past four weeks. Over the past six weeks, CBS is averaging a 17 share in adults 18-49 with its 9-11 p.m. Sunday movie, while NBC and ABC, which target that demo, are managing just a 14 and a 10, respectively.
LeAnn Rimes vidpic “Holiday in Your Heart” equaled ABC’s second-best 18-49 rating in that slot this season.
NBC may be on to something with its 8-9 p.m. “Dateline.” In the past two weeks, 8 p.m. telecasts of that newsmag have earned “Dateline’s” two best Sunday ratings since March. In adults 18-49 though, NBC remained fourth for the hour on Sunday, 9 shares behind leader Fox.
NBC got a reminder of how powerful it could be on Saturdays with a strong third “Thrillogy” component. By airing an extra “Pretender,” NBC won Saturday in total viewers for the first time in-season with series programming since Nov. 14, 1992, back before CBS intro’ed “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” “Profiler” enjoyed its biggest 18-49 margin of victory ever over “Walker, Texas Ranger.”
CBS hit a flat note with “Christmas Concert of Hope,” which croaked out less than half the 18-49 slot average of regular “Early Edition.”
ABC equaled its lowest Saturday rating since August with weak Yule spex that led into the lowest-rated firstrun “Practice” ever.
A night of Christmas specials un-wrapped CBS’ first Friday victory in adults 18-49 since April’s “Dukes of Hazzard” reunion pic. A pair of “Frosty” spex melted by 9% vs. year-ago results, but “Santa Claus” and “Kathie Lee” improved by a share vs. last year’s Wednesday airings. “Kathie Lee” also was up by 40% in adults 18-49 vs. last year’s spec.
A week after beating an “ER” rerun in households, “20/20” settled back into its familiar position, 22 shares behind in homes and 38 behind in adults 18-49.
NBC’s previously fading rookies “Veronica’s Closet” and “Union Square” both rebounded for the best retentions of their 18-49 lead-ins (83% and 82%, respectively) in five tries.
Crumbling rookies “Cracker” and “413 Hope St.” let old-skewing “Diagnosis Murder” take second in the 9-10 p.m. hour among adults 18-49. No such luck for CBS at 10 p.m., where the failing “Dellaventura” got beat up for the Eye’s worst 18-49 rating that hour since at least 1996.
ABC stayed first, as “Drew Carey,” “Dharma & Greg” and “Spin City” controlled their slots.
The tiring “Ellen” inherited a 9-share lead in adults 18-49 from “Drew Carey” but won its half-hour by just 1 share. As “Ellen” slacks off, slot rival “Working” is diligently padding its resume, having retained an average 95% of the slot’s 18-49 lead-in over its past four airings.
“The Tony Danza Show” wrote another line in its own obituary, retaining a moribund 62% of its 18-49 lead-in. Against that competition, CBS’ “Murphy Brown” is starting to look perky on Wednesdays, last week building by a best-yet 9% on its 18-49 lead-in from “The Nanny.”
Fox’s “Party of Five” is up a sizzling 32% in adults 18-49 season-to-date vs. last year.
ABC barely held off NBC, as “Mad About You” once again extinguished “Grace Under Fire.” It was apparently ABC’s lowest-ever homes rating with regular firstrun programming in that half-hour. A 90-minute “NYPD Blue” apprehended that series’ best rating in six tries, giving ABC the boost it needed to win the night.
A special 8:30 p.m. “Just Shoot Me” showed up slot regular “NewsRadio,” retaining 98% of the slot’s 18-49 lead-in, compared with “NewsRadio’s” average 89% retention.
CBS’ switch of “48 Hours” to Tuesdays produced a promising 18% improvement on the net’s 18-49 rating of the previous hour. Slot predecessor “Dellaventura” averaged a 4% decline vs. the previous hour.
“Moesha” set a UPN slot record in adults 18-34, and the netlet finished second for the night in teens.
The Dec. 8 standings were led by ABC’s Carolina-Dallas football contest (Daily Variety, Dec. 10). Fox led 8-10 p.m. in adults 18-49, as “The Billboard Music Awards” took home an increase in that demo for a fourth straight year.
Each household rating point represents an estimated 980,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.23 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it measures only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.