CBS heads households; NBC grabs 18-49 demo

'King,' 'Melrose' look promising for Fox

CBS has moved back into the primetime Nielsen households lead and NBC has maintained control of the key adults 18-49 race in July 27-Aug. 2 figures, which featured mixed results for the networks’ early introductions of fall schedule changes.

Fox’s “Getting Personal” and ABC’s “Spin City” already look dead in their intended fall slots on Friday and Tuesday respectively, but Fox got a promising start from Tuesday transferee “King of the Hill” and a splashy debut for the summer series “Guinness World Records” (the top-rated show of the week in teens and men 18-34).

On Monday, Fox’s summer run of “Melrose Place” is doing well by summer standards — up 83% in adults 18-49 over slot programming earlier this summer (4.4 rating, 15 share vs. 2.4/8) — but less impressively by regular-season standards: down 24% from the series’ 1997-98 season average and breaking even in share (4.4/15 vs. 5.8/15).

Fox’s aggressive firstrun summer strategy did pay off last week in wins among adults 18-34 (a fairly narrow demo that draws a premium from some advertisers) and key male demographics.

CBS has now won or tied for first in households five of the past six weeks, while NBC has led in adults 18-49 for 18 weeks in a row. CBS is gradually regaining credibility in the key demo races, finishing last week within 3 shares of first in adults 18-49 and 2 in adults 25-54.

The July 27-Aug. 2 adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, a 3.9 rating, 13 share (down in rating by 7% vs. results for the same week last year); Fox, 3.4/12 (up 10%); ABC, 3.0/10 (down 12%); CBS, 2.8/10 (down 3%); WB, 1.2/4 (even); UPN, 1.0/3 (down 33%). Fox won four nights in that demo last week.

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were: HBO, 1.1/4 (even); TNT, 0.8/3 (down 11%); USA, 0.8/3 (up 14%); ESPN, 0.6/2 (even); Lifetime, 0.5/2 (even); Showtime, 0.5/2 (up 25%); Nickelodeon, 0.5/2 (up 25%). TBS slipped 33% to a 0.4/2 with its coverage of the Goodwill Games.


“Melrose Place” (5.6 rating, 10 share in homes, 4.5/15 in adults 18-49) improved by 5% in adults 18-49 in its second summer firstrun try, keeping Fox first in that demo in Aug. 3 results. In homes, it was the lowest-rated “Melrose” ever.

NBC prevailed in households with the top-rated Monday “Dateline” (10.2/18) in nine tries. CBS’ rival “48 Hours” (6.1/11) faded to less than half “Dateline’s” 18-49 audience.


Fox led the night in adults 18-49 despite a 20% drop vs. year-ago results.

CBS led in homes and adults 25-54 as “Buffalo Girls” stampeded to the top first-episode rating among nine rerun multiple-parters aired by the nets this summer. “Girls” was also third out of those nine in adults 18-49 but NBC’s rival “Pandora’s Clock, Part 1” took second on the 18-49 list behind only ABC’s “The Stand.” In their slot, though, neither “Girls” nor “Pandora” could top Fox’s “X-Files” or ABC’s “The Surrogate” in that demo.

The ride is getting rough this summer for ABC’s “Wonderful World of Disney,” with last week’s “Ernest Rides Again” getting thrown for the Alphabet’s worst non-political rating ever in that slot, 42% below the net’s year-ago 18-49 results from a failing schedule.


Fox took the night by 3 shares in adults 18-49 and moved ahead of the pack in households as well. CBS’ declining lineup was fourth in adults 18-49 and 25-54.

ABC’s first try with the “Hall of Fame” preseason gridcast in primetime fumbled to what’s apparently the lowest primetime NFL rating ever, but that was still good enough for ABC’s second-best Saturday 18-49 score since May.


Fox got off to a slow start with “Getting Personal,” which equaled the net’s lowest rating ever in “Personal’s” planned fall timeslot at 8:30, despite a firstrun episode (Daily Variety, Aug. 4). That led into the lowest-rated “Millennium” ever.

ABC’s “Ghosts of Fear Street” pilot from “Goosebumps’ ” R.L. Stine didn’t mesh with the Alphabet’s female-skewing TGIF team, holding 89% of its men 18-34 lead-in but just 55% of its women 18-34 lead-in. The result was ABC’s worst rating on record in that slot and a third-place finish for the night in homes and adults 18-49.

That carnage left CBS and NBC tied for first. CBS maintained a share of the households lead with regular programming for a second straight week, the first time the Eye has managed that on a Friday since May 1988.


Fox got its second-best Thursday 8-9 p.m. rating in three months from “World’s Scariest Police Chases,” but foundering “Fox Files” dropped 36% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Scariest” and NBC maintained a 10-share advantage in that demo.

NBC notes that its top-rated “Just Shoot Me” was watched by more people (14.9 million) than attended last weekend’s top five films at the box office (a combined 13.5 million).


ABC edged out the Wednesday competition.

The $5.5 million vidpic “Terror in the Mall” was no bargain for Fox, bagging a mere third-place finish for the night in adults 18-49, down 33% from the previous Wednesday’s rerun of “Speed.”

CBS’ “Public Eye” won its hour in homes for a fourth straight week with its highest Wednesday 25-54 rating since Dec. 3.


Fox shook up the night with the first Tuesday try for “King of the Hill” and the summer-series premiere of “Guinness World Records,” which combined to win the night by 3 shares in adults 18-49 (Daily Variety, July 30).

“King” topped Fox’s summer 18-49 average in the Tuesday 8-9 p.m. hour by 30% and “Guinness” more than doubled Fox’s 9-10 p.m. average.

Meanwhile, the three-hour Julia Roberts pic “The Pelican Brief” winged to CBS’ first Tuesday win in homes with regular programming in 52 weeks.

ABC has serious Tuesday problems, with “Spin City” hitting the net’s lowest numbers ever in that former “Home Improvement” slot and “NYPD Blue” tumbling to its lowest network rating ever as well.

NBC’s “Mad About You” also equaled its lowest net rating to date.


The July 27 season premiere of “Melrose Place” boosted Fox ahead for the night in adults 18-49 while “Dateline” kept NBC first in homes (Daily Variety, July 29).

Each household rating point reps an estimated 980,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV households. 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 homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.