Clearing out the notebook as the season approaches the one-month mark:
- So far, it’s a two-net race for the title of most-watched network, as NBC (six shows) and CBS (four) dominate the top 10 in total viewers.
According to Nielsen, ABC’s top program, “Monday Night Football,” ranks 14th, while Fox — which has yet to premiere some of its most popular series — doesn’t show up until No. 52 (“That ’70s Show”).
The Peacock and Eye also claim the top 10 shows in the key demo of adults 18-49, with No. 1 “Friends” among seven NBC entries. ABC’s “MNF” shows up at No. 12, and Fox is again repped highest by ” ’70s Show” (No. 19).
- ABC may be struggling overall, but it has accomplished one of its goals already this season by returning to a younger audience profile. Through three weeks, the Alphabet’s median age of 45.0 puts it behind both CBS (51.5) and NBC (45.4).
Trimming from its sked two editions of older-skewing quizzer “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” has certainly helped, but the net’s strongest new shows of the season are playing to a younger, more typical ABC aud. Median age for Sunday drama “Alias” is 43.6, while Wednesday laffer “According to Jim” checks in at 41.2.
Oldest-skewing series on each of the Big Three thus far are: ABC’s Thursday edition of “Millionaire” (57 years), CBS’ “Citizen Baines” (56½) and NBC’s “Providence” (54). Of these, only the Peacock program is competitive in demos.
- UPN is delivering the largest year-to-year growth for any net this season, including gains of 25% or more in adults 18-49 and 18-34.
Leading the surge are Monday comedies (including strong newcomer “One on One”) and revamped drama lineups on Tuesday (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Roswell”) and Wednesday (“Enterprise”).
Oddly, these gains come as the program that had been carrying the net for a couple of seasons, wrestling extravaganza “WWF Smackdown,” begins to fade. Through three weeks, it has pinned down 19% fewer viewers than a year ago.
- Looking at the early-season leaders among new programs, the most-watched rookie drama is CBS’ “The Guardian” and the top first-time comedy is NBC’s “Inside Schwartz.”
If “The Guardian” holds up, it would be the third straight year the Eye has produced the top new drama — following “Judging Amy” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
Similarly, “Schwartz” would make it three straight top new laffers for NBC, after “Stark Raving Mad” and “The Weber Show.” Of course, neither of these comedies — nestled between the net’s big Thursday hits — was invited back for a second season.
- Bad football still outdraws good baseball, according to Nielsens for Oct. 15 — when a matchup of the Redskins and Cowboys (both 0-4 entering the game) went head to head with the deciding game of an early-round playoff series between the Yankees and Athletics.
The baseball contest on Fox drew 11.7 million viewers, but ABC’s “Monday Night Football” managed to attract 14.7 million. It’s the largest aud for an early-round baseball game since the playoff format changed five years ago and the second lowest ever for a Monday pro football contest.
Baseball’s older skew was evident in the demo breakdown for the games. Football won out over the national pastime by 74% in teens and by 43% in adults 18-34 but by only 12% in viewers 50-plus.
- Heading into development season, here’s something webheads may want to ponder:
Is it any coincidence that in these troubled times, CBS’ “Touched by an Angel” and the WB’s “7th Heaven” have hit new season ratings highs each of the past three weeks?