ABC Sat. rookies put heat on CBS

Fox suffering on sidelines

Latest Nielsen results show NBC finding its Thursday footing in the post-“Seinfeld” era, ABC solidifying its Friday lead and CBS maintaining control of Saturday, but ABC rookies “Fantasy Island” and “Cupid” are putting some heat on CBS’ Saturday team in the younger adult demographics.

With the male-appeal CBS Saturday lineup challenged by baseball competition, ABC’s femme-skewing schedule pulled within 0.6 rating points of CBS for the night in adults 18-49, according to preliminary national Nielsens. That cuts in half CBS’ week-earlier 1.2-rating-point edge over ABC’s Saturday sked.

Friday remained in ABC’s column, according to prelim Nielsens, though “Two of a Kind” cooled a bit in its second outing. Schedule mate “Brother’s Keeper” and CBS rookie “Buddy Faro” continue to show minor promise on that night.

In Thursday’s updated nationals, NBC finished within a respectable 9% of its year-ago “Seinfeld”-boosted 18-49 average. “Frasier” dropped 22% behind that slot’s comparable year-ago “Seinfeld” 18-49 tally, but the rest of the Peacock’s squad performed closer to traditional NBC Thursday standards.

Fox continues to struggle in the early weeks of the fall season, suffering double-digit dropoffs vs. year-ago figures on both Friday and Saturday.

“Kids” tops “Two”

ABC’s “Two of a Kind” (7.6 rating, 15 share in homes, a 3.7 rating in adults 18-49) slipped 8% below its premiere-week 18-49 average to fall into second place that half-hour behind CBS’ “Kids Say the Darndest Things” (8.7/17 in homes, 3.8 in adults 18-49, up 36% in that demo over slot results for the comparable night last year). Still, “Two of a Kind” topped ABC’s year-ago 18-49 slot score that half-hour (with “Sabrina”) by 3%.

Fellow ABC rookie “Brother’s Keeper” (7.8/14 in homes, 4.1 in adults 18-49) is looking okay at 9:30, retaining 87% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Sabrina” (8.8/16 in homes, 4.7 in adults 18-49). That’s up from an 86% retention premiere week.

CBS’ Friday freshman “Buddy Faro” (7.1/13 in homes, 2.7 in adults 18-49) maintained its satisfactory first-week 18-49 numbers, but baseball competition helped drop “Buddy” 13% behind the Eye’s year-ago 18-49 average with sitcoms in that slot. The Dennis Farina starrer was still up in males and adults 25-54 vs. last year.

’20/20′ takes it

ABC’s “20/20” (12.1/23 in homes, 6.0 in adults 18-49) took over the night at 10 p.m. with its top rating since March 13. For the evening, ABC averaged a 4.8 rating in adults 18-49 (up 14% vs. results for the same night last year) to beat CBS (3.6, up 9%) and Fox (3.0, down 35%). NBC baseball demos were unavailable.

Preliminary Friday household averages were: ABC, 9.4/18; CBS, 8.0/15; Fox, 4.1/8. Nationals weren’t available for NBC’s N.Y. Yankees-Texas baseball, but in overnights that game scored a 7.1/13 from 8-11 p.m. Eastern time. Nielsen will update Friday’s prelim nationals this week, with significant adjustments possible.

On Saturday, ABC’s female-skewing schedule showed solid week-two growth against baseball competition.

“Fantasy Island” (5.8/11 in homes, 4.1 in adults 18-49) won its hour in the 18-49 demo with an 11% improvement over its premiere numbers and a lush 58% increase over ABC’s year-ago score in that slot with the short-lived “Total Security.”

At 10 p.m., “Cupid” (5.6/10 in homes, 3.9 in adults 18-49) spread its wings as well, up 22% over the show’s premiere-week 18-49 rating and down a modest 7% from ABC’s year-ago “Practice” result in that hour.

ABC’s ‘Funniest’ level

ABC didn’t fare as well with its 8-9 p.m. season premiere of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (4.3/8 in homes, 2.2 in adults 18-49, fourth for the hour by both measures), merely equaling the net’s poor year-ago 18-49 slot results with “C-16.”

CBS rookie “Martial Law” (7.5/14 in homes, 3.7 in adults 18-49) slipped a bit against baseball competition, down 3% from its premiere 18-49 average, but still won its hour in homes and was a competitive second in key adult demos.

That “Martial” lead-in is enough to keep “Walker, Texas Ranger” (10.2/19 in homes, up 1% vs. year-ago results; 4.8 in adults 18-49, down 4%), far ahead in the 10-11 p.m. hour, giving CBS control of nightlong results.

ABC’s new Saturday leadoff hitter, “Early Edition” (7.2/14 in homes, 3.4 in adults 18-49), was off 8% from the slot’s year-ago 18-49 results with “Dr. Quinn.”

Nightlong prelim-national averages in adults 18-49 were: CBS, a 4.0 rating (down 9% vs. last year); ABC, 3.4 (up 13%); Fox, 3.1 (down 16%). NBC baseball demos were unavailable.

Saturday household averages were: CBS, 8.3/15; ABC, 5.3/10; Fox, 4.9/9. No national Nielsens were available for NBC’s baseball, but overnight averages gave the Braves-Cubs contest an 8.6/15 from 8-10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

NBC Thursday solid

On Thursday, NBC’s lineup won the night by 14 shares in homes and 26 in adults 18-49, with credible results across the sked.

“Friends” (17.4 rating, 29 share in homes, 13.3/40 in adults 18-49) equaled its year-ago 18-49 numbers, then 8:30 rookie “Jesse” (14.7/23 in homes, 11.7/32 in adults 18-49) retained 88% of that 18-49 lead-in, vs. an 81% retention in that slot a year ago with “Union Square.”

At 9 p.m., “Frasier” (17.7/27 in homes, 12.9/34 in adults 18-49) dropped to NBC’s lowest households score in that slot with regular firstrun fare since May 12, 1994, but still easily beat the slot’s combined network competition in that demo.

“Veronica’s Closet” (15.7/24 in homes, 11.6/30 in adults 18-49) followed at 9:30, retaining 90% of its 18-49 lead-in, a bit better than its 88% following “Seinfeld” in that same slot a year ago.

At 10 p.m., “ER” (21.7/36 in homes, 16.2/42 in adults 18-49) was off by a modest 8% vs. its year-ago 18-49 rating, and that was with NBC down 21% this year in the 9 o’clock hour.

ABC plunged by 33% vs. its week-earlier Thursday 18-49 rating, as the 8-9 p.m. freshman “Vengeance Unlimited” (5.0/8 in homes, 2.5/7 in adults 18-49) got beaten up in its first Thursday try. “Vengeance” was still up 25% in adults 18-49 vs. year-ago slot results from “Nothing Sacred.”

CBS’ “Promised Land” (9.8/16 in homes, 3.4/10 in adults 18-49) slipped 13% in homes vs. last year’s premiere but CBS was still up for the night in adults 18-49 thanks to “Diagnosis Murder” (11.0/17 in homes, 3.5/9 in adults 18-49, up 17% vs. last year in that demo). It was CBS’ top regular-sked Thursday homes rating since Jan. 15.

Thursday’s Braves-Cubs baseball on Fox (8.3/14 in homes, up 14% vs. the comparable game last year, 4.0/11 in adults 18-49, down 2%) showed more of the older skew that’s plagued baseball through the early nights of this year’s playoffs.

The WB’s new Thursday lineup enjoyed its best numbers to date (2.7/4 in homes, 1.7/5 in adults 18-49) but remained down 11% in adults 18-49 from what the comparable Wednesday lineup was doing a year ago.

Each household rating point represents an estimated 994,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV households. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.239 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it’s measured against only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.

Overnight ratings are derived from Nielsen samples in 40 metered markets, which account for 60% of the country’s TV homes.