‘Poke’-mania grips kids television, too

Kids drive record ratings for WB

Not all the fans were in the theaters last week: Enough of them hung around in front of their TV sets to keep “Pokemon” the No. 1 and 2 kids shows on both weekdays and Saturday morning.

From Nov. 8-12, the 7 a.m. “Pokemon” averaged a Kids’ WB! slot record 4.8 rating, 32 share, in kids 2-11, and surprisingly beat all other weekday kids series, morning and afternoon, except the WB’s 4 p.m. “Pokemon” (5.2/26).

The Japanese import is dominating seemingly every endeavor that touches children. In addition to its powerhouse showing on kids’ TV, it is proving to be a retail giant — with Pokemon merchandise selling out at stores and causing shortages at Burger King, which is running a promotion tied to the film. Yet its toughest immediate challenge appears to be hanging onto its pole position at the domestic box office. As of Thursday morning, “Pokemon’s” box office stands at $54 million, having pulled in $34 million since last Friday.

This weekend, “Pokemon” squares off with the new James Bond film and “Sleepy Hollow.” The competition at the box office will only get more intense as the holidays approach. In fact, “Pokemon” will meet its greatest challenge at the kiddie box office Wednesday, when “Toy Story 2” bows.

Poking WB rivals

“Pokemon’s” TV power helped the WB increase its Saturday morning advantage on Nov. 13. With the Japanese import commanding the two top kid 2-11 scores of the morning (7.0/26 at 10 a.m. and 5.3/23 at 8:30), Kids’ WB! averaged a 4.1/17 for the morning (up a monstrous 128% vs. year-ago results sans “Pokemon”) to top cable’s Nickelodeon (a national 3.8/16, down 19%), ABC (3.3/14, even), Fox (3.0/13, down 14%), Disney Channel (1.6/7, down 30%), Cartoon Network (1.3/6, even) and CBS (0.9/4, up 29%).

The 0.3 ratings point win for Kids’ WB! was its biggest in seven weeks. “Pokemon” has enabled Kids WB! to challenge Nick’s edge in kids on Saturday mornings this fall. Season-to-date, the WB is averaging a 4.2/18 in kids 2-11 and Nick a 4.0/17. Nick is available in 76% of U.S. TV homes and Kids’ WB! reached 81% last Saturday morning.

‘Early’ slips

In Nov. 8-12 early morning results, CBS’ “The Early Show” has slipped below that net’s usual third-place levels, after a premiere week surge the previous week that was due in part to interest in the EgyptAir crash.

In its second week, “Early” averaged a 2.3/4 in households, down a tenth from CBS’ season-to-date 2.4/10, down 12% from a 2.6/11 for the year-ago week and down 15% from a 2.7/10 for the show’s premiere week.

“Today” (5.0/19, down 9% from the previous week) remains far ahead, while ABC’s “Good Morning America” (3.7/14, down 3%) is running about midway between leader “Today” and third-placer “Early.”

Overnights for this week suggest that third-week numbers for “Early” are rebounding by a tenth of a point or two.

In weekend sports, NBC launched its coverage of NASCAR stock-car racing last Sunday with an OK 3.5/8 in households, down from the sport’s broadcast season-average 5.6/15, but respectable considering Sunday’s football competition and the two-month break since the last Winston Cup race aired on a broadcast net.

NFL packs ’em in

Later in the afternoon, Fox’s national coverage of Green Bay-Dallas football (15.9/29) tackled the highest homes rating for any Sunday afternoon NFL gridcast this season. Its key male demos (a 13.9 rating in men 18-49, for example) were the highest for any telecast in any daypart last week, including such primetime attractions as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

The week’s latenight star was “Conan O’Brien” (1.3/10 in adults 18-49), which hit eight-month highs with a week of shows originating from Burbank.