Alphabet survives CBS, NBC

'Millionaire' helps ABC win week

CBS had a bigger show and NBC a bigger night, but it was a more consistent ABC that came away with a weekly ratings victory.

The Alphabet net placed first or second in adults 18-49 every night but Monday to win the week of July 17-23 in the key demo — just its second trip to the winner’s circle in the eight weeks since wrapping the season as the winner in May. ABC also ranked as the most-watched network for the second straight week, according to Nielsen, placing six of the top 10 shows.

The net made a nice comeback, winning three of the last four nights behind strong scores for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “Making the Band” and “The Practice.”

CBS’ summer smash “Survivor” again hit new ratings highs, ranking as the No. 1 program in all breakdowns, including viewers (26.15 million), adults 18-49 (11.4/35) and adults 18-34 (11.7/37).

“Survivor’s” fifth straight week as the most-watched program is the longest streak of the season, while its fourth straight week as tops in adults 18-49 ties a mark set three times during the season by NBC’s “ER.”

The Eye also got more solid numbers for the multi-night “Big Brother” but stumbled elsewhere in the week with the two final installments of repeat mini “The Last Don” and another sub-par Sunday. Net placed second in viewers and third in young adults.

The Peacock won Monday and Tuesday, but also slid to its lowest Friday and Saturday and second-lowest Sunday of the postseason. It finished second in the demo.

NBC’s “Will & Grace” marathon on Tuesday delivered the week’s top four comedy scores in adults 18-49 and the week’s second best nightly tally (5.5), behind only CBS’ “Survivor”-boosted Wednesday (5.7).

Broadcast nets’ adults 18-49 averages for July 17-23: ABC, a 3.6 rating/11 share (up 20% in rating vs. a year ago); NBC, 3.2/10 (even); CBS, 3.0/10 (up 25%); Fox, 2.8/9 (up 4%); UPN, 1.3/4 (up 63%); the WB, 1.0/3 (down 23%); Pax, 0.3/1 (even).

In homes: ABC, 6.8/12 (up 21%); CBS, 6.3/12 (down 3%); NBC, 5.8/11 (down 2%); Fox, 4.2/8 (up 2%); UPN, 2.1/4 (up 40%); the WB, 1.6/3 (down 33%); Pax, 0.8/2 (even).

Adults 18-49 averages for the top cable services: HBO, 1.0/3 (even), tied with USA, 1.0/3 (down 9%); TNT, 0.8/3 (up 14%); TBS, 0.7/2 (up 17%); Lifetime, 0.6/2 (up 20%).


Pax, looking for its first breakout hit, may have found it thanks to its relationship with NBC, which partly owns the wannabe network. The supernatural-tinged drama “Mysterious Ways” bowed July 24 on the Peacock to winning numbers (12.01 million, 4.4/14 in A18-49), matching NBC’s best demo score in the Monday leadoff hour since May 1999.

Hourlong “Mysterious” built by 18% in adults 18-49 in its second half-hour (4.0 to 4.7). Series will air for six Mondays on NBC and will begin its Pax run on Tuesday, Aug. 22.

The big bow helped NBC win a second straight Monday in adults 18-49 with regular series programming for the first time since August 1997.

CBS’s “Big Brother” scored its best Monday numbers in three tries in total viewers (10.59 million), adults 25-54 (4.3/14) and men 18-34 (3.7/15). “Brother” tied “Mysterious” in adults 18-49 head-to-head.

Fox’s “Opposite of Sex” (4.79 million, 2.3/8 in A18-49) nearly equaled its soft week-earlier debut numbers.


ABC was the easy winner in viewers (13.30 million) and adults 18-49 (4.3/13) as “Millionaire” (23.07 million, 7.3/20) and “The Practice” (14.36, 5.0/14) crushed the movies on CBS and NBC. Both series delivered their best ratings perfs in six weeks.

NBC devoted two hours to Olympic trials, with audience growing throughout the 7-9 block and peaking at 8:30 with a 3.7/11 in adults 18-49 — good enough for second behind Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle” (4.1/12).


ABC delivered its best 18-49 average on a Saturday in seven weeks (2.4/9), behind original pic “Ice” (2.5/10) and repeat spec “Totally Out of Control Nature” (2.4/9); latter topped all four repeat scores of “NYPD Blue” in the slot over the last month.

Fox won in adults 18-49 (2.8/11) for the fifth time in six weeks, led by “America’s Most Wanted” (3.0/11).


NBC, dragged down by the lowest-rated “Providence” repeat ever (5.36 million, 1.6/6 in A18-49), finished third in viewers and fourth in adults 18-49 with its worst numbers of the summer.

ABC had its best Friday with regular programming since May in both viewers (7.61 million) and adults 18-49 (3.2/12). It also won in adults 18-34 (3.0/13), teens (3.2/15) and kids (2.1/10).

“Making the Band” delivered its second best 18-49 rating (3.2/12) since its March preem and matched its best-ever men 18-34 rating (2.9/11), while newsmag “20/20” saw its best score in young adults (3.6/13) since May 12.

CBS won the night in viewers (7.75 million) and was second in adults 18-49 with its best nightly score in the demo (2.6/9) since May 26. “Big Brother” won its half-hour by 2 shares in adults 18-49 and lead-out “Candid Camera” held a best-yet 86% of its “Brother” 18-49 lead-in (2.5 vs. 2.9) with CBS’ best series score in the slot since Jan. 7 (also “Candid Camera”).


“Will & Grace” looked right at home on its new night, matching the last month’s 18-49 average of previous slot occupant “Frasier” (4.8/15) and improving upon that show’s 18-34 average by 11% (5.1 vs. 4.6). And its old Tuesday laff-mate “Just Shoot Me” was right on target at 9:30, retaining 96% of “Will’s” audience in both 18-49 (4.6 vs. 4.8) and 18-34 (4.9 vs. 5.1).

That combo made life tougher on “Millionaire,” which won its hour by 4 shares in adults 18-49 but slipped to its second lowest firstrun Thursday rating of the season (5.7/18).

“Big Brother” posted its first week-to-week gains with the hourlong episode that saw houseguest Will get the boot. Series was up vs. the previous week by 10% in adults 18-49 (4.6/16 vs. 4.2/15) and by 16% in adults 18-34 (4.4/16 vs. 3.8/14).

Lead-out “City of Angels,” though, continues to struggle in what will be its fall timeslot, drawing its smallest audience in three Thursday tries (4.26 million) and slipping to the net’s lowest 18-49 score in the slot since coverage of the 1996 political conventions.


CBS again was the easy Wednesday winner, but “The Last Don” retained a worst-yet 24% of its “Survivor” 18-49 lead-in (2.7 vs. 11.4).

NBC and ABC benefited from the lost “Don,” as “The West Wing” (10.20 million, 3.3/10 in A18-49) and “20/20 — Wednesday” (12.47, 4.7/14) each hit summer highs.

The WB’s “Young Americans” slipped in its second outing by 20% in adults 18-34 (1.6 vs. 2.0).


NBC’s “Will & Grace” marathon delivered the net’s highest adults 18-49 on any night with series programming this summer (5.5/16). “Will” won each of its final four half-hours in adults 18-49, scoring best at 9:30 (6.6/18) when it topped second-place “Two Guys and a Girl” on ABC by 8 shares (3.5/10).

ABC still won the night in total viewers (12.73 to NBC’s 10.41) behind “Millionaire” (20.31 million). The quizzer slipped to its lowest adults 18-49 rating for a firstrun Tuesday hour (5.2/17) but did log its best Tuesday share in teens (16) since May 2.

Despite rugged competition for young adults at 8, CBS’ “Big Brother” (3.4/12) edged Fox’s “That ’70s Show” (3.3/12) and NBC’s “Will & Grace” (3.2/11) for second place behind “Millionaire” (4.3/15).


NBC won July 17 in viewers (9.86 million) and adults 18-49 for its first Monday victories of the season without sports help. Net’s “Third Watch” (8.89 million, 3.4/10 in A18-49) topped fellow rookie dramas “Family Law” and “Once and Again” in their first summer battle.

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