NBC, the dominant May sweeps network for nearly a decade, is picking up steam as the current book approaches the halfway point.

According to Nielsen estimates, the Peacock net mastered the week of April 29-May 5 by all key measures. Buoyed by 11 of the week’s top 15 programs in adults 18-49 and total viewers, NBC won the frame across the board by some hefty margins.

In 18-49, NBC topped second-place CBS by 7 shares — the biggest victory margin for any net without major sporting events since NBC’s week of the “Seinfeld” finale in May 1998. It also bested CBS by 6 shares in 25-54, and beat out runner-up Fox by 5 shares in 18-34.

NBC captured six of seven nights in the key 18-49 demo, including the last five. It made it six straight on Monday of the current week (see below) and has opened up a big sweeps advantage through 12 of 28 nights.

Adults 18-49 standings through Monday: NBC, 5.4/15 (up 15% vs. a year ago); CBS, 3.8/11 (down 14%); Fox, 3.6/10 (down 14%); the WB, 1.7/5 (up 13%); UPN, 1.6/4 (even).

In total viewers: NBC, 13.78 million (up 20%); CBS, 12.87m (down 7%); ABC, 8.79m (down 15%); Fox, 7.80m (down 10%); the WB, 4.08m (up 19%); UPN, 3.89m (up 2%).

NBC, looking for its eighth straight May sweeps victory in adults 18-49, received additional boosts last week from Sunday’s three-hour “NBC 75th Anniversary” spec, an “ER” crossover episode of “Third Watch” on Monday, and a strong showing by “Men in Black” on Saturday.

CBS had the week’s most-watched program overall with Thursday’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (26.17m), while NBC’s “ER” produced the week’s and sweep’s top rating in adults 18-49 (12.9/32).

Another interesting story emerging at this point of the sweep is the WB’s advantage over UPN in most key measures. Earlier in the season, it was the latter that was enjoying the year-to-year gains and appeared to have the momentum.

Last week, the Frog easily won the head-to-head battle in adults 18-34 (1.9/6 vs. 1.5/5) and persons 12-34 (2.1/7 vs. 1.5/5). In addition to its strong series like “7th Heaven,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Smallville,” net also enjoyed a strong Friday with its comedy block and boosted its Sunday with movie “The Mummy.”

At the same time, UPN’s Thursday wrestling series “WWF Smackdown!” fell to its lowest marks ever (4.48 million, 1.8/4 in A18-49).

TNT was the week’s most-watched basic cable net in primetime (1.76m), followed by Lifetime (1.60m) and Nickelodeon (1.58m). MTV’s “The Osbournes” was the top program (5.80m), although it was down about 2 million viewers week to week.


CBS didn’t do much May 6 with its 50th anni “Honeymooners” spec, which landed third in 18-49 (3.2/8) and second in viewers (12.73m), and lost a good chunk of its aud on the half-hour. Net still won the night in total viewers and was second in demos, thanks to “Everybody Loves Raymond” (19.46m, 6.5/16 in 18-49).

NBC made it six straight nightly 18-49 wins and was the only net to show year-to-year gains (up 37%). “Fear Factor” (5.3/15) and “Crossing Jordan” (5.9/15) both dominated their hours and “Third Watch” ran second in the demo (4.5/11).

Fox picked things up, as “Boston Public,” which featured a storyline in which a boy vies to become prom queen, grabbed its best 18-49 score since March, as did lead-out “Ally McBeal” (4.2/10).

ABC delivered some strong femme demos but just a so-so overall score with the preem of “Notting Hill” (8.78m, 3.3/9).


NBC’s three-hour-plus anniversary spec (20.46m, 7.8/20 in 18-49) ruled the night (Daily Variety, May 7), losing only the 8 o’clock half-hour to Fox’s “The Simpsons” in the demo.

CBS, second in total viewers but fourth in 18-49 and 25-54, was led by “Hallmark Hall of Fame” movie “Little John” (13.50m, 3.0/7 in 18-49).

Broadcast premiere of “The Mummy” delivered solid numbers for the WB (4.03m, 1.5/4).


NBC won the night in adults 18-49 behind National Basketball Assn. playoff action and “Men in Black,” which ranks as the second-highest-rated Saturday movie of the season in the demo (4.0/13), behind only ABC’s “Forrest Gump” (4.6/14) in September.

ABC’s “The Sixth Sense” (6.45m, 2.4/8 in 18-49) underwhelmed for the second time in a week.


Nets took turns winning hours in 18-49, with CBS’ “CSI” repeat prevailing at 8 (3.0/11), ABC’s “American Bandstand” 50th anni capturing the 9 p.m. hour (3.6/11), and NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” easily the night’s top program (5.8/18).

Fox’s “Dark Angel” (5.73m, 2.7/9 in 18-49) picked up a bit with its 90-minute season finale but still left Fox third for the night in 18-49.

The WB’s “Reba” won its slot in females 12-34 with its best score since November (3.1/12), while lead-out “Maybe It’s Me” was the night’s top program in teens (3.2/14).


NBC’s comedies rebounded after facing ABC’s “The Bachelor” a week earlier, as “Friends” (23.97m, 11.7/32 in A18-49) dominated at 8. Net took the night by 9 shares in 18-49 and by 2 million viewers over runner-up CBS.

CBS’ “CSI” easily won the 9 o’clock hour by all key measures, while NBC’s “ER” cleaned up at 10.

You know UPN’s “Smackdown!” is struggling when it falls to third in male teens: From 9 to 10, its 4.4/12 trailed both CBS’ “CSI” (6.2/17) and Fox’s “Return of the Jedi” (5.6/16).

The WB’s “Charmed” (4.70m, 2.1/5 in 18-49) conjured up some of its best female demos since December.


NBC won convincingly as “The West Wing” (17.40m, 6.3/16 in 18-49) and “Law & Order” (19.30m, 7.4/20) both towered over their hours.

For the second week in a row, ABC claimed both the night’s most-watched comedy (“My Wife and Kids,” 10.37m) and the No. 1 laffer in 18-49 (“According to Jim,” 3.9/12).

UPN’s “Enterprise” won the 8 o’clock hour in men 18-49 (3.3/11).


CBS grabbed just its second Tuesday adults 18-49 victory in the past three seasons thanks to the conclusion of strong mini “Living With the Dead” (17.06m, 6.0/15 in 18-49), while Fox moved up to second behind two hours of “That ’70s Show” (Daily Variety, May 2).

UPN’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” delivered its best women 18-34 rating (3.4/10) since November.


With “Third Watch” establishing timeslot records with an “ER” crossover episode (Daily Variety, May 1), NBC rolled to victory April 29.