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ABC grids for win

Football helps Alphabet continue demo run

With football on its side, ABC is looking muscular enough to challenge NBC for primetime’s overall young adults crown.

The Alphabet has taken its fourth-straight week in adults 18-49 with a narrow Aug. 30-Sept. 5 triumph over NBC. Each of those four wins has come with special help — Monday football and/or “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” — but with football on the sked through the new year and “Millionaire” due back in November, ABC could pose a real 18-49 threat to NBC’s leadership in the coming season.

Homes to CBS

Households are now going consistently to CBS, which claimed its sixth homes victory in seven weeks during the Aug. 30-Sept. 5 period. The Eye was paced by Monday comedies “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “King of Queens,” the week’s first- and fifth-highest-rated comedies in households (and first- and second-highest-rated in total viewers).

Once-dominant NBC has now gone four weeks without an 18-49 win and eight weeks without a households victory.

Last week’s adults 18-49 results were: ABC, a 3.4 rating, 11 share (up in rating by 6% vs. results for the same week last year); NBC, a 3.3/11 (down 21%); Fox, 2.6/9 (down 19%); CBS, 2.5/8 (down 11%); UPN, 1.3/5 (up 44%); WB, 1.1/4 (down 8%); Pax TV, a 0.3 rating.

Wrestling-boosted UPN was the week’s winner among female teens and the No. 2 net in total teens behind only Fox.

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services were: HBO, 1.2/4 (down 8%); TBS, 0.9/3 (up 29%); TNT, 0.7/2 (down 13%); Lifetime, 0.6/2 (even); ESPN, 0.5/2 (down 64% from year-ago football-boosted results); Discovery, 0.5/2 (even).

Tuesday

In Sept. 7 results, UPN’s “Dilbert” (1.1 rating, 2 share in homes, 0.6/2 in adults 18-49) started poorly on its new night, falling below the homes rating of every “Moesha” aired in that slot over the past four seasons.

NBC took the night in adults 18-49 while CBS won in households with summer-best numbers from “JAG” (8.0/14 in homes) and “60 Minutes II” (8.8/14 in homes).

Monday

On Sept. 6, UPN’s initial all-firstrun Monday topped last year’s by 47% in households, with “Grown Ups” looking like the star of the lineup with a 2.8/4 in homes at 9 p.m.

Fox led the night in adults 18-49, while ABC nipped CBS in homes.

Sunday

The Wesley Snipes rerun pic “Drop Zone” gave NBC a 2-share victory for the night in adults 18-49, while CBS dominated in homes despite the lowest-rated “60 Minutes” since January 1996. Fox skidded to its lowest Sunday homes average in the six years since July 4, 1993.

Holiday-weekend distractions dropped the night’s rate of homes using TV to 50% vs. the previous week’s 58%, and the nets were further impacted by affil defections for the Jerry Lewis telethon. TBS also stole viewers with a “Star Wars” rerun, the week’s most-watched primetime cablecast (5.4 million viewers).

Saturday

NBC’s Muhammad Ali docu “When We Were Kings” hit the canvas with the lowest homes rating for a movie in NBC history.

“Cops” equaled its lowest-ever households rating for a firstrun seg, but Fox still won the night in adults 18-49 with its best Saturday results since June. The CBS lineup dominated in homes with its highest average of the summer.

HBO earned the week’s biggest pay-cable audience (4.2 million viewers) courtesy of possible presidential aspirant Warren Beatty and his political satire “Bulworth.”

Friday

CBS suffered low clearances due to local preseason NFL gridcasts, while NBC stumbled with its “Diana” rerun, allowing ABC to cruise to an easy victory.

Thursday

UPN’s “WWF Smackdown” declined by 12% in homes with its second try, but still nearly doubled UPN’s Thursday season average (up 95%) and won the night in kids, teens and men 18-34.

NBC led the night with its best “ER” numbers in 12 weeks.

ABC’s Thursday team fumbled 38% of its previous-week homes rating (which was boosted by “Millionaire”). Most net telecasts were hurt by local NFL preemptions.

Wednesday

ABC edged NBC in adults 18-49, as an extra “Two Guys and a Girl” delivered an unexpected 18-49 increase over its lead-in from “Drew Carey.” Fox attracted the week’s top teen rating with “High School High.”

Tuesday

ABC’s sitcoms inched back ahead of NBC’s in adults 18-49 from 8-10 p.m. on Aug. 31, thanks to the benching of ABC’s slumping “Sports Night.” NBC still led nightlong results with a 10 p.m. surge from “Dateline.”

UPN grabbed its best Tuesday teen numbers since March 1998 with “Summer Music Mania ’99.”

Monday

ABC punted the Aug. 30 competition with San Francisco-Oakland football, the week’s top-rated telecast in homes, viewers and adults 18-49 (Daily Variety, Sept. 1). Fox’s “That ’70s Show” has gradually built into a solid Monday regular, last week grooving to best-yet Monday results.

UPN hit its highest Monday teen rating in two years, as “The Parkers” premiered successfully. At 9 p.m., the netlet’s first regular-slot “Grown Ups” earned UPN’s best homes rating in that half-hour since April 1998.

Each household rating point represents an estimated 1 million homes, or 1% of the country’s TV households. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.24 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.