‘Merlin’s’ magic

Mini gives NBC sweep lead; Fox 2nd in 18-49

The networks have completed the first week of the May sweeps with “Merlin”-boosted NBC enjoying the biggest adults 18-49 lead for any network after seven nights of a major sweep since February 1983.

Fox, meanwhile, is holding a comfortable 3-share margin in the race for second in the key adults 18-49 demographic.

Through Wednesday, sweeps averages in households are: NBC, a 12.2 rating, 20 share (up in rating by 18% vs. the same week last year); CBS, 9.0/15 (down 12%); ABC, 7.8/13 (down 19%); Fox, 7.3/12 (down 4%); WB, 3.2/5 (up 33%); UPN, 2.7/4 (down 10%).

Adults 18-49 averages are: NBC, an 8.2/23 (up 26%); Fox, 5.3/15 (down 2%); ABC, 4.5/12 (down 31%); CBS, 3.7/10 (down 16%); WB, 1.7/4 (up 42%); UPN, 1.5/4 (down 17%).

ABC led the Wednesday race narrowly, though “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” (7.8/12) drooped to the second-lowest retention yet of its 18-49 leadin, 75%, and placed second in that emo. Canceled slot predecessor “Ellen” averaged a 77% retention, though since Jan. 1 that figure had slipped to 69%.

Turning up the heat on “Pizza” was Fox’s slot competition, “Party of Five.” In its second week back after a six-week break, “Party” (7.5/12) finished a solid second for its hour in adults 18-49 with a 6.1/15, tops in the slot for Fox since March 4.

“Star Trek: Voyager’s” highest orbit in eight weeks (3.9/6) carried that UPN series above CBS’ slot competition, “Public Eye” (7.5/12), in adults 18-49 (2.7/7 vs. 2.5/7). Though “Public Eye” was fifth in that key demo, the newsmag actually won its second half-hour in homes, ahead of a three-way tie for second place between NBC’s “Working,” ABC’s “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” and Fox’s “Party of Five.”

NBC has aired nine of the 10 highest-rated programs of the sweep to date in adults 18-49.

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’s measured against only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.