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Nets’ gambles pay off with strong Nielsen bows

'Millionaire' steady but not stunning

Midseason series “Daddio” and “Making the Band” have premiered with winning ratings, in large part driven by dominating scores among the youngest of viewers.

Both NBC’s Thursday premiere of laffer “Daddio” and ABC’s Friday launch of music-based reality skein “Making the Band” won their timeslots among total viewers and adults 18-49, but made their strongest impression among those under 18.

According to Nielsen, “Daddio” drew a total of 2.16 million kid/teen viewers (ages 2-17), ranking it second on the night behind only NBC’s “ER” (2.24 million). “Making the Band” did even better in its hour, prelim results show, drawing 2.5 million young viewers — more than CBS, NBC and Fox combined in the 9 o’clock hour.

NBC’s other series bow on Thursday, “Battery Park,” didn’t fare quite as well, losing a big chunk of “Frasier’s” audience but still performing a bit better than the net’s recent efforts in the 9:30 slot with original programming.

Risky business

The results for “Daddio” and “Making the Band” are especially encouraging for NBC and ABC, as each series represented a bit of a risk.

In the case of “Daddio,” it’s NBC’s first attempt at launching a family comedy since net execs earlier this season declared the development of one a major priority. The Peacock’s attempts at family comedies in recent seasons have fallen flat and a successful midseason run for “Daddio” could help land it and other family comedies on the net’s fall schedule.

It was also risky for NBC since the new laffer bowed behind “Friends,” which attracts a significant portion of its audience from the young singles crowd that may not be the target audience for “Daddio.” Still, a post-“Friends” launch made the most sense for NBC because it’s still the net’s top-ranked comedy among kids and teens.

“Daddio” drew 19.71 million viewers, retaining a strong 92% of its total audience lead-in from “Friends.” Regular timeslot occupant “Jesse” had averaged 79% retention of its lead-in following the last five original “Friends” episodes. Among adults 18-49, “Daddio” posted an 8.8/24; its 85% retention is a bit better than the 79% that “Jesse” had averaged.

In both total viewers and adults 18-49, it’s NBC’s best midseason premiere since “Fired Up” in 1997.

Good news for ABC

A strong bow for “Daddio,” of course, is also good news for ABC, since the series comes from Touchstone Television — the first Touchstone product to land on a network other than ABC since the studio was folded into the ABC Entertainment Television group last summer.

“Making the Band” was a gamble because it’s the first time in years that ABC has tried anything other than comedies in its Friday “TGIF” block. The Alphabet web has been struggling with its youth-oriented comedies on the night and “Band” may represent an alternative way to reach its target teen and young adult audience.

According to prelim Nielsen results, “Band” drew first-place totals of 11.8 million viewers and a 4.6/14 in adults 18-49.

Comparisons with other ABC programming in the 9-10 Friday slot are difficult to make because “Band” had the advantage of following a special episode of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

But “Band” did impressively gain on the half-hour among adults 18-49, going from a 4.4/14 at 9 p.m. to a 4.7/14 at 9:30, according to prelim results.

‘Millionaire’ steady

“Millionaire” (prelim 21.5 million, 5.7/19) easily won its hour in all ratings categories, but not with its usually awesome figures. Its movie-themed episode drew the smallest audience for any installment since November, while its adults 18-49 share matched its lowest since January.

As for “Battery Park,” the police comedy series from Gary David Goldberg drew 14.70 million viewers and an adults 18-49 score of 7.3/18, drop-offs of 26% and 21% respectively from its “Frasier” lead-in. “Battery” placed second in both categories behind “Millionaire” with ratings that represent gains of 6% and 4% respectively over what NBC had been averaging in the slot recently with firstrun series programming.

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