CBS closes gap on NBC in sweeps

Landon, Ventura biopics to figure in ratings race

Before sweeps viewers say goodbye to Joan, Cleopatra, Noah, the Unicorn Killer, Dr. Quinn and Michael Landon. they’re in for one more week of event programming, series stunting and primetime posturing.

CBS is hovering half-a-point behind NBC in the households race, still a threat to possibly steal the month from NBC by that traditional measure. In adults 18-49, NBC is up by 1.5 rating points and is virtually assured of victory.

Three-week sweeps averages show NBC leading in households with a 9.6 rating, 16 share (down in rating by 11% vs. results for the same nights last year), followed by CBS’ 9.1/15 (up 2%), ABC’s 7.4/13 (down 5%), Fox’s 6.2/11 (down 13%), the WB’s 3.2/5 (down 3%) and UPN’s 2.0/3 (down 23%).

Eye wide awake

It’ll take a major rally for CBS to catch NBC, but the Eye has been closing in ever since NBC opened up its huge lead less than a week into the month with the two-parter “Noah’s Ark.”

One week in, NBC led CBS by 2.1 rating points. Then a week later the lead had shrunk to 0.9, and now, three weeks in, it’s a 0.5-rating-point edge.

CBS will probably do well in households through the last week of the sweeps, with tonight’s Daytime Emmys, Saturday’s “Dr. Quinn” telefilm, Sunday’s Michael Landon biopic and next Wednesday’s Miss Universe Pageant. NBC’s got last night’s big season finales for its Thursday powerhouses and Sunday’s Jesse Ventura biopic.

NBC still ahead

NBC is leading the month’s 18-49 standings with a 5.9/17 (down 17%), while ABC (4.4/13, even) and Fox (4.4/13, down 14%) are tied for second. The rest of the order is: CBS (3.8/11, even), the WB (1.7/5, even) and UPN (1.1/3 (down 27%).

NBC won Wednesday, May 19 in households, but CBS minimized any Peacock gains by running a “60 Minutes Classics” special (5.9/11 in homes, 1.9/6 in adults 18-49) that sent slot rival “Dateline NBC” (6.6/12 in homes, 3.1/10 in adults 18-49) to its lowest homes rating ever as a Wednesday regular.

Fox’s season-closing segs for “Beverly Hills 90210” (6.5/12 in homes, 4.6/15 in adults 18-49) and “Party of Five” (7.3/12 in homes, 5.4/15 in adults 18-49) fell below their year-earlier season-finale 18-49 results by 41% and 17% respectively.

Each household rating point represents an estimated 994,000 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’s measured against only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.