NBC, with its Thursday lineup of firstrun episodes dominant as usual and its usually moribund Sunday coming alive with “The Sound of Music,” recorded another primetime victory in young adults last week.
According to Nielsen, the Peacock net averaged a 5.2 rating and 13 share in adults 18-49 for the week of Dec. 11-17, topping both Fox and ABC by 2 shares. It’s the ninth demo victory in the last 11 weeks for NBC, which also edged past ABC to win the week in total viewers.
Although NBC has struggled with most of its rookie series this season, its towering strength on Thursday continues to be the difference in the weekly ratings wars. Last week, the net’s Thursday programs again ranked as the frame’s top five shows in adults 18-49, led by “ER” (14.6/36).
Net would likely have won even more convincingly if its top-rated Wednesday shows weren’t preempted for coverage of live news events.
In total viewers, Thursday’s “ER” (29.84 million) and “Friends” (23.26 million) claimed the top two spots, but NBC wouldn’t have won the week by this measure if not for a strong showing Sunday with a 35th anniversary airing of “The Sound of Music.” Four-hour pic’s audience of 14.25 million viewers is nearly 30% better than the net’s Sunday average this season.
Due in part to the airing of more original episodes during the week, each of the six nets was either flat or posted year-to-year gains in its target demo.
Fox continues to do well, winning the week in adults 18-34 and moving past ABC into third place in 18-49. Net captured four nights of the week in the latter demo (Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday).
ABC’s much-anticipated “Monday Night Football” matchup (an NFC title rematch between St. Louis and Tampa Bay) delivered the best 18-49 rating (9.9/26) for the franchise since Nov. 8, 1999 (Dallas-Minnesota) and its largest audience (22.32 million) since this season’s premiere on Sept. 4 (Denver-St. Louis).
The latest in a season of down-to-the-wire contests also delivered the highest men 18-49 rating for “MNF” (13.7/35) in the 32 games since last season’s opener.
ABC’s “20/20 – Downtown” also drew its largest audience of the season (11.45m).
With Fox’s dramas in repeat, CBS had no problem finishing second to ABC in adults 18-49. “Everybody Loves Raymond” led the way once again, delivering its best-ever repeat scores in 18-49 (7.6/17) and total viewers (20.14m).
The WB’s “7th Heaven” finished third in its hour in viewers (8.02m), topping NBC’s “Titans” (5.48m) and a repeat of Fox’s “Boston Public” (7.11m), and first in its strongest demo of persons 12-34 (3.9/11).
CBS won a Sunday in adults 25-54 (6.5/14) for the first time in 10 weeks. Newsmag “60 Minutes,” featuring an interview with Tom Hanks, delivered its best marks (19.11m, 5.0/13 in A18-49, 6.7/15 in A25-54) since March 12, while “The Christmas Secret” unraveled the best 18-49 for a single-part CBS Sunday pic (4.8/11) since Oct. 8 (“Personally Yours”).
Despite sub-par ratings for “Millionaire” at 9 (18.16m, 4.7/10 in A18-49), lead-out “The Practice” surged to its third-best marks of the season (19.39m, 7.3/17). The 55% build on the quizzer in 18-49 is the best yet for “The Practice.”
“The Sound of Music” drew NBC’s second largest in-season Sunday audience since Jan. 23 (“Golden Globes”); the only larger Sunday gathering for the net in the 11 months since was the 17 million who turned out for another four-hour pic, “Titanic,” three weeks ago.
After a strong start this season, Fox’s “The X-Files” has dipped, this time to its lowest marks since May 7 (12.37m, 6.6/14 in A18-49). Net still won the night in the demo, thanks to strong scores from its comedies; “King of the Hill,” benefiting from a special “Simpsons” lead-in, logged its second-best 18-49 rating of the season (5.7/15).
Fox won the night in 18-49 (3.6/12) while CBS prevailed in total viewers (10.37 million). Eye’s “That’s Life,” likely boosted by the net’s late-afternoon NFL game, delivered its largest audience (7.96m) in eight weeks.
In the battle of pics, ABC’s rebroadcast of “The Preacher’s Wife” (8.29m, 2.9/9) got the better of NBC’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” (6.09m, 2.5/8), which slipped to the Peacock’s lowest Saturday movie marks of the season.
NBC won every half-hour in adults 18-49 and total viewers, with “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” ranking as the night’s top show in both (14.31m, 4.6/14). “Dateline” nabbed its best 18-49 rating (4.3/13) since March, topping a repeat of CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” by 2 shares.
CBS’ “Nash Bridges” fell to its lowest numbers of the season for a firstrun episode (10.71m, 3.4/11 in A18-49).
Fox’s “White House Tour” grabbed the largest aud for the net in the 8 o’clock hour (10.42 million) since Jan. 28 (“Wildest Police Videos”). In the same hour, Scott Hamilton’s “Farewell to Stars on Ice” drew CBS’ largest aud since the second episode of “The Fugitive” on Oct. 13; spec skewed old, though, finishing fourth in 18-49 (2.1/7).
NBC’s all-original lineup won by 19 shares in adults 18-49 and was up slightly vs. the same night a year ago — the ninth time in 10 weeks that the net’s Thursday sked has delivered ratings growth vs. comparable nights in 1999.
It was another dismal Thursday for CBS and Fox, which slid to fifth and sixth, respectively, in adults 18-49 behind some low-rated specials.
CBS was hampered by weak showings for “Snowden’s Christmas” at 8 (1.8/5) and “Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year” at 10 (1.4/3). Christmas specs “Cinderelmo” and “Olive the Other Reindeer” each netted a mere 1.6/4 demo score for Fox.
UPN’s “WWF Smackdown” matched its season-high rating in adults 18-49 (3.4/9).
Speeches by George W. Bush and Al Gore disrupted the night’s entertainment slate, including the postponement of NBC’s strong drama lineup.
The Peacock’s coverage of the night’s political events averaged a winning 5.5/13 in adults 18-49 from 9 to 10:30 p.m., although ABC won the night in the demo thanks to a strong score at 8 for “Millionaire” (5.7/14).
The WB’s “Felicity” entered its winter break with strong ratings for its cliffhanger episode (Daily Variety, Dec. 13).
Fox won in adults 18-49 and ABC in viewers on a night when each of the Big 3 nets provided sustained coverage (unrated) of a key Supreme Court ruling on the presidential election.
“That ’70s Show” won its half-hour in 18-49 (6.3/17), topping “Millionaire” for the seventh time in their eight meetings this season. The quizzer bounced back as usual at 8:30 though, topping “Titus” by 2 shares.
CBS’ “JAG” drew its largest aud in six weeks (13.53m) and matched its best 18-49 rating of the season (4.0/10).
The 36th CBS airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” helped the net deliver its most-watched Monday without sports programming since September 1996, while Fox’s dramas also did very well (Daily Variety, Dec. 13).