HOLLYWOOD — NBC put an exclamation point on another impressive May sweeps performance Wednesday, while the netlets — especially UPN — also wrapped up strong months and seasons.
Peacock’s “Law & Order” and “The West Wing” led the way on Wednesday, while Fox again did well with “Celebrity Boxing,” CBS held tough with the “Academy of Country Music Awards” and “Felicity” said goodbye on the WB with strong numbers.
Wednesday capped the May sweep as well as the 2001-02 broadcast season — both of which NBC captured in all key demos (adults 18-49, 25-54 and 18-34) and total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. It’s the net’s eighth straight first-place May finish in adults 18-49 and its sixth seasonal demo victory in seven years.
NBC, UPN and the WB all showed year-to-year improvement across the board for the sweep, while CBS was up slightly in both total viewers and adults 25-54 and flat in 18-49. Fox and ABC were the month’s stragglers.
UPN finished the season up by double-digit percentages in key ratings categories, delivering its highest adults 18-34 rating for any full season in its history (1.9/6), as well as its best in five years among adults 18-49 (1.8/5) and total viewers (4.29m). In the May sweep, it delivered five-year highs in adults 18-34 (1.8/6), adults 18-49 (1.8/5) and total viewers (4.16 million).
‘Buffy’ slays ’em
Netlet, led by Tuesday’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Wednesday’s “Enterprise” and hot Monday comedy “Girlfriends,” scored seasonlong victories over its rival weblet in all key adult demos as well as total viewers, although the WB appeared to have the momentum by season’s end.
UPN points out that “Buffy” finished its first season on the net with higher averages than its final season on the WB in total viewers (4.58m vs. 4.43m), adults 18-49 (2.2/6 vs. 2.1/6) and some male demos.
The Frog hopped to an all-time May sweep best in adults 18-34 (2.1/6), topping UPN in that demo as well as teens and total viewers. Nets tied in adults 18-49.
The WB is inching closer to the Big Four in its target demos, too, finishing just 1 share behind ABC in viewers 12-34 and women 18-34 and 2 shares behind the Alphabet in adults 18-34.
As for NBC, perhaps its most impressive feat during the sweep was winning 20 of 28 nights among adults 18-49. By comparison, Fox led on four nights (including one tie), CBS won three (with a tie) and ABC took two.
Also, the net dominated the half-hour leading into the local news. At 10:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday, the Peacock averaged a 7.2 rating in adults 18-49 and an 8.3 in adults 25-54 — topping the combined ABC/CBS scores in the half-hour.
On Wednesday, NBC won five of six half-hours in adults 18-49, led by “Law & Order,” although the drama was down 11% vs. its 2001 finale (7.3/19 vs. 8.2/22). “West Wing” was up a tick vs. last year (to 6.2/15), topping its 9 o’clock in the demo as well in both adults 25-54 and total viewers (16.64m).
One-hour 8 o’clock spec “Most Outrageous Game Show Moments” (10.80m, 4.0/12 in A18-49) did well, winning at 8:30 in the demo.
‘Boxing’ packs a punch
Fox’s second edition of “Celebrity Boxing,” this time a 90-minute punchathon including matches pitting Darva Conger against Olga Korbut and William “the Refrigerator” Perry vs. Manute Bol, delivered a strong 5.1/14 in adults 18-49, a 6.2/17 in adults 18-34 and 10.17 million viewers overall. These numbers are down from a March special, but still impressive given the tougher competition.
“Boxing,” which grew wildly with each half-hour, was especially strong in male demos, winning the 9 o’clock hour in men 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.
Fox also took the 8 p.m. half-hour in adults 18-49 (4.2/14) and other demos with a firstrun “Simpsons.”
CBS’ “Academy of Country Music Awards” won the night’s opening hour in total viewers and finished for its three hours with an average of 4.2/11 in adults 18-49 (down 4% year-to-year) and 13.32 million viewers overall (down 5%). Eye placed second on the night in viewers and adults 25-54.
ABC, fourth on the night, was led in 18-49 by a one-hour spec at 10, “David Blaine’s Vertigo” (4.0/10), while the one-hour “My Wife and Kids” finale was its most-watched program (9.79m).
Two-hour finale of the WB’s “Felicity” (3.68m, 1.8/5 in A18-49) delivered some of the skein’s best numbers of the season.
UPN’s “Enterprise” wrapped its first season with solid numbers (5.28m, 2.7/8 in A18-49), placing second to Fox at 8 in men 18-49 (3.3/10).