Good Sein for NBC

Net's on top as 'Seinfeld' countdown begins

NEW YORK — Growing “Seinfeld” momentum has kept NBC the master of the primetime domain in May 4-10 Nielsen results.

The second-to-last firstrun “Seinfeld” climbed to a series-record rating, highlighting a third-straight lopsided NBC weeklong victory. That string will certainly be extended this week, with huge numbers anticipated from Thursday’s “Seinfeld” finale.

So with nine nights left to count in the four-week May sweeps, an NBC victory is assured and Fox is now looking tough-to-beat for second in the key adults 18-49 race.

The month’s households averages are: NBC, an 11.0 rating, 19 share (up in rating by 8% vs. results for the same period last year); CBS, 8.8/15 (down 13%); ABC, 7.7/13 (down 13%); Fox, 7.0/12 (down 3%).

In adults 18-49, sweeps scores are: NBC, 7.3/21 (up 9%); Fox, 5.0/15 (down 4%); ABC, 4.4/12 (down 23%); CBS, 3.7/11 (down 14%).

WB hit another milestone on Monday of this week as the season finale of “7th Heaven” rose to a 5.9/10, establishing a WB record share and tying the “Dawson’s Creek” episode that aired opposite the State of the Union Address for the highest-ever WB rating.

For the May 4-10 week, the nets’ adults 18-49 averages were: NBC, a 6.8/20 (up 1%); Fox, 4.9/14 (down 4%); ABC, 4.3/13 (down 16%); CBS, 3.7/11 (down 14%); UPN, 1.5/4 (down 17%); WB, 1.5/4 (up 25%). Season-to-date, Fox has inched ahead of ABC for second in this demo, with a 5.0/14 vs. ABC’s 4.9/13. Fox has topped ABC in adults 18-49 for 13 of the last 16 weeks.

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were: TNT, 1.5/5 (even); USA, 0.7/2 (up 17%); TBS, 0.6/2 (even); Lifetime, 0.5/1 (up 25%); Discovery, 0.5/1 (up 25%).


NBC’s “Witness to the Mob, Part 2” (11.2 rating, 18 share) took control of the May 11 numbers game, giving NBC its sixth consecutive Monday win. Fox was a competitive second in adults 18-49 on the strength of “Ally McBeal” (9.7/15 in homes), which beat “Witness” in that demo by 4 shares from 9-10 p.m.

CBS’ “Only Love, Part 2” (9.3/15) trailed “Witness” by 8 shares in adults 18-49 but did post the net’s best homes rating in the 9-11 slot with non-sports programming since last Nov. 3. “Witness'” two-night average of 11.3/18 in homes ranks it fifth out of nine multiple-parters aired on the nets this season and “Only Love’s” 9.8/16 places it seventh.

WB’s record-tying “7th Heaven” beat the Fox competition in homes and adults 18-49 and more than doubled rival UPN’s “Love Boat” (2.4/4 in homes). “7th” earned a 50 share in female teens and a 34 in total teens, and led WB to its highest Monday homes rating ever.

ABC’s “The Practice” (9.3/15) is showing legs, equaling its third-highest-rated episode ever two weeks after the boost of an “Ally McBeal” crossover.


With “The X-Files” winning its slot in adults 18-49 by 8 shares, Fox prevailed on Sunday in that important demo (Daily Va-riety, May 11). CBS won in homes, though “Only Love” faded behind NBC’s rival two-parter “Witness to the Mob.”

NBC’s weekly Michael Jordan overrun slipped 13% vs. year-ago results to the lowest score in three playoff Sundays.

ABC’s “Lion King” rerun won its slot in adults 18-49, though down by 44% vs. the 18-49 rating of its first airing Nov. 3, 1996.

In its first Sunday try, WB’s Monday disappointment “Kelly Kelly” couldn’t match its lead-in rating, the first drop-off in that half-hour for WB in 10 weeks. It was the netlet’s lowest rating with original regular programming there since Feb. 18, 1996.


“The Pretender” led NBC to a nightlong 18-49 win. CBS won in homes but that lineup may be due for a shakeup, having finished fourth in CBS’ target demo, adults 25-54, two weeks in a row.

ABC’s “Commercials” special equaled the Alphabet’s highest rating in that slot in 11 weeks.


CBS tied ABC in homes and flew off with victories in most key demos with the final pre-cable showing of “The Wizard of Oz.” “Oz” fell to the lowest households rating in its 38 net airings, but still showed increases over its previous broadcast in most key demos and carried CBS to its best Friday demos with entertainment fare since April 25, 1997 (“Dukes of Hazzard Reunion”).

“Oz” landed on ABC’s “Sabrina,” which equaled its worst firstrun rating to date.

A special Friday “X-Files” mysteriously disappeared, with Fox’s worst 18-49 rating that hour since Nov. 28. The weak lead-in helped chase “Millennium” to the lowest Fox rating in that slot with firstrun regular programming since July 30, 1993.


The record “Seinfeld” and the fifth-highest-rated “Friends” ever kept NBC far ahead of the Thursday competition with the highest-rated night of regular programming since NBC’s premiere-week Thursday (Daily Variety, May 11). It was “Friends’ ” top-rated season finale to date, up 40% vs. last year in adults 18-49. In homes, it was NBC’s best rating that hour since May 20, 1993 when “Seinfeld” led into the “Cheers” finale.


Fox led the night 8-10 p.m. in adults 18-49 while ABC prevailed 8-11 p.m. An interview with Ellen DeGeneres regarding the demise of her “Ellen” sitcom boosted “PrimeTime Live” to the highest 18-49 rating of any newsmag last week.

CBS stole the households lead in “Ellen’s” old 9:30-10 p.m. timeslot for a second straight week, further suggesting the slot’s marginal successes, “Working” and “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” (“Ellen’s” replacement), could be sliced up by tougher competition. “Working” retained 85% of its 18-49 lead-in and “Pizza” just 75%.

Series setting or equaling their lowest-ever firstrun ratings included “NewsRadio,” “Spin City,” “Pizza Place” and “Smart Guy.”


“Frasier’s” solid slot win over “Home Improvement” kept NBC first for the night (Daily Variety, May 7). CBS’ “Last Don II” averaged a two-night 10.8/17, ranking it fifth out of seven multiple-parters on the nets this season.

NBC’s “For Your Love” lost 9% of its 18-49 lead-in, while ABC’s slot rival “Soul Man” improved on its lead-in by 18%.

“Dawson’s Creek” set WB records for teens (12.0/33) and female teens (19.3/48). Every UPN series except “Moesha” set or equaled their lowest-ever firstrun ratings.


Hourlong doses of “Suddenly Susan” and “Caroline in the City” helped NBC win May 4, but “Ally McBeal” kept Fox first from 8-10 p.m. 18-49 averages (Daily Variety, May 6).

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, or 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.