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‘Unicorn’ gores NBC

Mini mini ratings leave Peacock vulnerable

For a second-straight sweeps month, NBC has followed a big multiple-parter success with a flop. This time, it’s “The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer,” which limped Sunday to a little more than one-third the adults 18-49 result of the previous week’s “Noah’s Ark” part one.

In February, NBC scored with “The ’60s,” but followed it up a week later with “To Serve and Protect,” the Peacock’s lowest-rated firstrun multiple-parter in households in at least 18 years.

Sunday’s part one of “Unicorn Killer” was chased to an 8.3 rating, 13 share in homes and a 5.1/13 in adults 18-49, according to preliminary Nielsens. That homes rating puts “Unicorn” slightly behind part one of “To Serve and Protect” (8.4/13). The 18-49 result, though solidly better than “Serve’s” 4.5/11, landed “Unicorn” fourth in its slot, and was not much more than one-third the 14.1/32 of NBC’s week-earlier “Noah’s Ark” part one.

‘Dearborn’ drives ratings

CBS had a “Noah” of its own Sunday, the Sidney Poitier telepic “The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn” (a prelim 13.7/22 in homes, 6.1/15 in adults 18-49), which also proved to be a successful navigator of the Nielsen currents. Poitier’s “Noah” guided CBS to a dominating 9-share win for the night in households and a close second-place finish just 1 share behind Fox in adults 18-49.

Despite its “Unicorn” disappointment, NBC remains far ahead of its May sweeps pursuers and will routinely win the May 3-9 week in both adults 18-49 (by roughly 1.7 rating points over ABC or Fox) and in homes (by about a 0.8-rating-point margin over CBS).

A “Unicorn” success, however, could have helped lock up this aggressively programmed sweeps month for NBC, which remains catchable, especially in homes if CBS can rally.

In projected sweeps averages that incorporate weekend prelim results, NBC’s sweeps-month advantage over CBS in homes shrunk by more than one-third, from 2.2 rating points before Sunday to 1.4 after Sunday (with a 10.1 rating for NBC vs. an 8.7 for CBS). In adults 18-49, the Peacock’s edge over both ABC and Fox shrunk Sunday from 2.5 rating points to 2.1 (6.3 vs. 4.2).

Alphabet on horizon

ABC could be the net to watch in the 18-49 race, with its May 23-24 two-parter “Cleopatra” and the May 25 “Home Improvement” finale.

NBC hopes to derail those upset hopes with its third multi of the month, “Atomic Train,” which comes down the tracks May 16-17. CBS counters May 16 and 18 with “Joan of Arc.”