‘Survivor’ lifts Eye web

Reality show gives CBS ratings win in total viewers, key demos

A boffo Thursday courtesy of the “Survivor” finale vaulted CBS to victories last week in total viewers and key demos, but NBC hung in there surprisingly well — both on Thursday and for the week.

According to estimates from Nielsen Media Research, the Eye and the Peacock tied in adults 18-49 (4.6/13), with CBS also winning very easily in total viewers (14.4 million) and very narrowly in adults 25-54 (5.5/15). It’s the net’s fifth straight weekly victory in total viewers, its eighth victory of the season in adults 25-54 and its best showing by both these measures since Grammy week in February.

It would have won the week outright in 18-49 if not for some weak finishes on several nights.

Eye net also has pulled to within 29,000 viewers behind season-to-date leader ABC in the battle to be called the most-watched network.

The two-hour conclusion of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” (36.35 million viewers, 15.9/39 in adults 18-49) and the reunion show that followed (28.01m, 13.2/31) were easily the week’s top two programs. Former, while down about 30% from the first “Survivor’s” finale last August, topped the other five nets combined from 8-10 p.m. on Thursday by virtually every measure; latter then became the first program to ever top NBC’s “ER” in either total viewers and/or adults 18-49.

Still, NBC Thursday biggies “ER,” “Friends” and “Will & Grace” ranked third, fourth and sixth for the week in adults 18-49 — limiting the net’s year-to-year losses on the night to 19%.

Net showed nice year-to-year gains on Monday (thanks to “Weakest Link”) and Wednesday (with its strong dramas). It also prevailed for the week in women 18-34 and men 25-54 and remains the May sweep leader in the key demo of adults 18-49.

Fox also had another solid week, showing year-to-year gains in adults 18-49 on six nights and logging what are becoming routine victories in both adults 18-34 and teens. It joined CBS and the WB as the only nets to improve in target demos vs. the same week a year ago.

And then there was ABC. The Alphabet net was up week-to-week but remained third in total viewers and fourth in adults 18-49 for a third straight week, showing huge losses vs. the same frame last season, which marked the beginning of the first celebrity edition of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

If there was a bright spot for ABC it was that, boosted by the first of this sweep’s celebrity “Millionaires” and six hours of theatrical hit “Armageddon,” net logged its second best adults 18-34 rating in nine weeks.

Through Monday of this week (12 nights), NBC leads the May sweep in adults 18-49 with a 4.7 rating/14 share (down 8% in rating from a year ago), followed by CBS, 4.4/13 (up 38%); Fox, 4.2/12 (up 8%); UPN, 1.6/5 (down 6%); and the WB, 1.5/4 (up 7%).

In total viewers, CBS is cruising with an average of 13.9 million (up 21%), followed by NBC, 11.5m (down 3%); ABC, 10.3m (down 35%); Fox, 8.7m (up 8%); UPN, 3.8m (down 7%); and the WB, 3.4m (up 4%).

Monday

The best numbers in six weeks for “Boston Public” (11.25m, 5.2/15 in A18-49) helped Fox win May 7 in adults 18-49 (by 2 shares over CBS) as well as adults 18-34 and teens. News wasn’t as good at 9, though, as “Ally McBeal” placed a solid second but dropped to its second lowest firstrun scores of the season (11.82m, 6.0/15 in A18-49).

CBS prevailed in total viewers (13.34m) and tied with Fox for first in adults 25-54 (5.9/15), with “Everybody Loves Raymond” (18.34m, 7.1/18 in A18-49) rebounding from a soft week to easily rank as the night’s top show.

NBC’s “Weakest Link” (11.78m, 5.1/15 in A18-49) improved week-to-week, winning its hour in 25-54 (5.5/15) and placing second in 18-49. That helped boost second night of mini “Steve Martini’s The Judge” (10.84m, 3.1/8) but it stayed in fourth place.

The WB’s “Roswell,” battling for its renewal life, logged season bests in persons 12-34 (3.1/9) and adults 18-34 (2.5/7).

Sunday

Fox won in adults 18-49, 18-34 and teens as each of its programs posted year-to-year growth. “The X-Files” topped the first night of celeb “Millionaire” in 18-49 (6.8/15 vs. 6.3/14), although the quizzer was the night’s most-watched show (19.67m).

Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle” and “The Simpsons” were the week’s top shows in male teens — the only category “Survivor’s” finale didn’t win.

ABC’s “The Practice” was the night’s No. 1 program in 18-49 (7.0/18) and also logged its second best 18-34 rating of the season (5.7/17).

Movies played a key part for the other major nets, with NBC’s opening night of mini “Steve Martini’s The Judge” struggling (9.81m, 2.7/6 in A18-49) and the sixth airing of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” settling for ABC’s weakest Sunday delivery with a theatrical (except opposite the Super Bowl) since last September (8.09m, 3.0/9 in A18-49). CBS, which won the night in total viewers, fared better with “Hallmark Hall of Fame” pic “Follow the Stars Home,” which posted the net’s best made-for scores (13.44m, 4.0/10) since December.

CBS’ “Touched by an Angel” nabbed its best marks (14.36m, 3.7/10 in A18-49) since February. It also drew more viewers than lead-in “60 Minutes” for the first time since November and built on the newsmag by a season-best 37% in 18-49 (3.7 vs. 2.7).

Saturday

ABC won the night in 18-49 for just the second time since January, as a quickie repeat of “Armageddon” captured the night by that measure (3.6/12) as well as adults 18-34 (4.2/13) and 25-54 (4.0/12).

Fox fell to its second lowest 18-49 rating on the night since December (a second-place 3.1/11) as “America’s Most Wanted” hit a season low (3.1/10).

NBC fared decently with an NBA overrun (2.4/10 in A18-49) and a repeat of “Happy Gilmore” (3.3/10), sending CBS to a fourth-place 18-49 finish (2.4/8) even though the Eye drew the most viewers overall (10.4 million).

Friday

NBC took the night in 18-49 for the 15th time in the last 18 weeks but didn’t put things away until 10 p.m.’s “Law & Order: SVU” (5.1/16), which topped second-place “20/20” on ABC (3.2/10) by 59%. Compared with the same week a year ago, “SVU” was up by 11% in the demo and 20% in total viewers; crime drama also ranked as the night’s most-watched show for the first time in 10 weeks (14.27m).

Fox’s “The Lone Gunmen” retained a best-yet 86% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Police Videos” (2.5/8 vs. 2.9/11) but remained in third place.

ABC saw nice week-to-week adults 18-49 gains for “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (up 26% to 2.6/10 for the hour), while CBS was sacked to its lowest in-season Friday demo rating (2.0/7) since December 1997. Compared with the same night a year ago (“Now & Again”), second hour of “Diagnosis Murder” was off by 34% in adults 18-49 (1.9 vs. 2.9).

The umpteenth airing of “Demolition Man” produced UPN’s highest-rated Friday with regularly skedded programming ever in men 18-34 (1.7/8) and male teens (2.7/12).

Thursday

CBS swept the night’s half-hours in total viewers and all key demos as the “Survivor” finale and reunion show dominated (Daily Variety, May 7).

UPN’s “WWF Smackdown” showed week-to-week growth and finished second for the night in teens (4.6/13), while “Gilmore Girls” provided the WB with significant time-period improvements — up 67% in adults 18-34 (to 1.5/4) and 51% in total viewers (to 3.16m).

ABC’s “Millionaire” fell to Thursday lows (11.59m, 2.4/5 in A18-49).

Wednesday

NBC’s powerhouse drama lineup posted the net’s largest margins of victory with regular programming on a Wednesday (including a 40% bulge over second-place ABC in adults 18-49) in nearly a decade (Daily Variety, May 4).

Night also saw a new “Murder, She Wrote” pic draw CBS’ largest Wednesday movie aud (11.32m) since January and ABC’s “Once and Again” season finale draw its best 18-49 rating ever opposite an original “Law & Order” (4.6/12 vs. “Law’s” 7.6/20).

Tuesday

ABC won for a ninth straight week in total viewers (ever since “Millionaire” returned), boosted by timeslot victories at 8 (“Millionaire”) and 10 (“NYPD Blue”).

A double dose of “That ’70s Show” helped Fox edge past ABC to win the night in 18-49 (4.9/14), improving vs. last year’s fourth-place finish (2.6/7) by a whopping 88%.

Monday

“Ally McBeal” ranked as the top show of April 30 in adults 18-49 (6.4/16), leading Fox to victory in the demo. CBS was sent to a rare fourth-place finish in 18-49 despite a victory in total viewers (Daily Variety, May 2).

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