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‘Arc’ lights up Eye

'Joan' wins for CBS, NBC holds 18-49

“Joan of Arc” rallied CBS to victory in May 10-16 primetime Nielsens with the Eye’s highest week-long average since Grammy week in February. NBC got less inspiring results from multiparters “Atomic Train” and “Hunt for the Unicorn Killer,” but still opened up its second-biggest lead in the vital adults 18-49 demographic since premiere week last fall.

“Arc” teamed with slot-winning movies “Three Secrets” and “To Love, Honor and Betray” on Tuesday and Wednesday to help CBS snap NBC’s two-week winning streak in homes. The Peacock remained unruffled in adults 18-49, where it has now won seven of the last eight weeks and is dominating the May sweeps.

But the May households race is getting tighter, thanks to “Joan of Arc.” Through Monday of this week, with nine nights left to count in the four-week period, averages are: NBC, a 9.8 rating, 17 share (down in rating by 11% vs. results for the same nights last year); CBS, 9.0/15 (up 2%); ABC, 7.2/12 (down 6%); Fox, 6.2/11 (down 11%); WB, 3.2/5 (even); UPN, 2.0/3 (down 23%).

In adults 18-49, it’s NBC, 6.0/18 (down 18%); Fox, 4.4/13 (down 12%); ABC, 4.2/12 (down 5%); CBS, 3.8/11 (up 3%); WB, 1.7/5 (up 6%); UPN, 1.1/3 (down 27%).

CBS’ competitive May has virtually assured the Eye of a seasonlong win in households, its first in five years, while NBC has locked up its fourth-straight seasonlong triumph in adults 18-49. The sweeps and the season wrap May 26.

Adults 18-49 averages for the May 10-16 week were NBC, 5.6/16 (down 35% vs. last year, when the “Seinfeld” finale aired); Fox, 4.4/13 (down 10%); ABC, 4.2/12 (up 2%); CBS, 4.0/12 (even); WB, 1.7/5 (down 11%); UPN, 1.0/3 (down 29%); Pax TV, a 0.2 rating.

NBC’s 1.2 ratings-point margin of victory is down from the previous week’s cushion of 1.7, but is otherwise NBC’s biggest in the 18-49 demo since Sept. 21-27.

National primetime 18-49 averages for the top cable services last week were HBO, 1.1/3 (even); TNT, 0.9/3 (down 10%); USA, 0.9/3 (up 50%); TBS, 0.9/3 (up 13%); ESPN, 0.6/2 (up 20%).

In CBS’ target demo, adults 25-54, “Joan of Arc” inspired a second-place finish for the week, CBS’ strongest showing since the NCAA basketball finals six weeks earlier.

Monday

The May 17 conclusion of NBC’s “Atomic Train” (10.2 rating, 16 share in homes, 5.7/14 in adults 18-49) slowed by 20% vs. its Sunday 18-49 results, but still completed its two-night excursion with an average 6.4/15 in adults 18-49, ranking it a solid fifth out of 13 multiparters aired on the nets this season.

“Ally McBeal” (11.3/17 in homes, 8.9/22 in adults 18-49) filed another Fox Monday win in adults 18-49, while CBS nipped NBC for the homes win.

At 10 p.m., CBS’ special “Chicago Hope” (8.8/14 in homes, 4.3/11 in adults 18-49) equaled the best 18-49 rating from slot regular “L.A. Doctors” since Jan. 18.

The second-to-last episode of NBC’s “Mad About You” (6.1/10 in homes, 3.7/11 in adults 18-49) managed no discernible boost despite a high-rated Thursday special last week. The May 17 “Mad” fell to fifth in its slot in households, behind the WB’s “7th Heaven” (6.2/10 in homes that half-hour).

Sunday

Perhaps the most competitive night of the sweeps fell to “Joan of Arc,” CBS’ top-rated Sunday pic in adults 25-54 since “Borrowed Hearts” in November 1997.

NBC’s “Atomic Train” couldn’t keep up with “Joan,” but the Peacock still nosed ahead of CBS for the night in adults 18-49 thanks to overrun basketball earlier in the evening. Peacock coverage of the NBA playoffs rebounded in week two, snaring a 46% increase over week-earlier results.

ABC settled for fourth Sunday in adults 18-49, though “Double Platinum” recorded the net’s highest 18-49 movie rating since February’s “Sonny & Cher” biopic.

The night’s many sweeps stunts affected Fox, which faded to third in adults 18-49 despite slot-leading season-enders for “Family Guy” and “The X-Files.” Fox still led the night’s 18-49 competition counting only 7-10 p.m. “common time” hours.

“Smart Guy,” which failed to make the WB’s fall schedule, improved by 29% on its households lead-in, “Guy’s” smartest build following an episode of “Sister, Sister” since Oct. 1, 1997.

At 9:30, the WB’s second-to-last “Unhappily Ever After” settled for that series’ weakest firstrun rating since May 10, 1995.

Saturday

Fox won the night in adults 18-49, with CBS prevailing in homes.

NBC gave “The Pretender” the night off and faded to fourth in the 18-49 demo.

The Peacock’s 5:40-8 p.m. L.A. Lakers-Houston NBA playoff telecast scored a 6.2/16 in homes and a 3.8/19 in adults 18-49, topping every 18-49 average in primetime that evening. Those results suggest more primetime playoff coverage may be coming on Saturdays in future seasons, though viewers decisively rejected regular-season Saturday-night NBAcasts last month.

Friday

NBC hung on to first, tying ABC in adults 18-49, despite the lowest-rated firstrun “Providence” to date in the 18-49 demo. ABC was boosted by the highest “20/20” 18-49 results in three months.

CBS’ “Kids Say the Darndest Things” blurted out its lowest-ever firstrun homes rating. At 10 p.m., though, the season finale of “Nash Bridges” earned the night’s highest non-newsmag 18-49 rating.

UPN equaled its weakest Friday homes rating to date.

Thursday

NBC’s Thursday team ruled the night thanks to the top-rated “ER” in homes since February and the best “Mad About You” numbers since Sept. 23, 1997 (Daily Variety, May 17).

“The Rock” rolled to ABC’s second-best Thursday 18-49 average in nine weeks, despite being rerun just 10 days after its original net run.

The WB’s “For Your Love” matched its second-best household rating this season.

Wednesday

The vidpic “To Love, Honor and Betray” and the “Nanny” finale presented CBS with its fifth-straight nightlong win in households, the Eye’s longest streak since May 10-14, 1997 (Daily Variety, May 14).

ABC held on in adults 18-49, though a Julia Roberts interview on “20/20” generated far less ratings magic than her week-earlier appearance on slot rival “Law & Order.”

Tuesday

ABC limped to an unimpressive 18-49 win while “Three Secrets” revealed another CBS Tuesday homes victory (Daily Variety, May 13).

The WB’s “Felicity” tied its second-best women 18-34 result to date, a 4.6/13 in that demo.

Monday

Fox scampered away from the May 10 18-49 competition but CBS inched ahead in homes (Daily Variety, May 12).

Each household rating point represents an estimated 994,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV house-holds. 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 measures only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.