In a warmup for what figures to be a close May sweeps battle down to the final night, Fox and NBC shared leadership in primetime ratings last week in the key young-adult demo.
The last full week before the sweep (which starts Thursday) also saw a couple of shows on the proverbial “bubble” — the WB’s vet drama “Angel” and NBC’s rookie comedy “Good Morning Miami” — respond with strong ratings.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox and NBC tied for the April 14-20 frame among adults 18-49 (3.8/11), with the former opening up a healthy advantage in adults 18-34 (3.9/13) and the latter doing the same in adults 25-54 (4.6/12). NBC also finished on top in total viewers.
Fox, with big numbers expected for the two-hour “American Idol” finale on the sweep’s final night, has to be considered the favorite for the month — although NBC should be battling for the lead until the final hours. CBS is projected to deliver the largest audience overall.
Last week, Tuesday’s “American Idol” was the No. 1 program in adults 18-49 (8.8/26), with Wednesday’s half-hour seg not far behind (8.4/24), tied for No. 2 with NBC’s “Friends” (8.4/26). Both episodes of “Idol” defeated their combined ABC-CBS-NBC competish among adults 18-49.
Fox’s “Wanda at Large” (5.4/14 in adults 18-49) won its Wednesday slot for a fourth straight week, coming out of the most-watched episode to date for “Bernie Mac.” Net also won Saturday in demos with its reality staples.
Since January, Fox has won or tied for the 18-49 lead in 10 of 15 weeks, and has led in 18-34 in 13 of 15 weeks.
NBC, which claimed 14 of the week’s top 30 programs in adults 18-49, won Thursday and Friday in the demo. “Friends,” “Will & Grace,” “Scrubs” and “Good Morning Miami” were the week’s top comedies in the demo, with “Miami’s” season finale (6.4/17) retaining 88% of its firstrun “Will” lead-in.
NBC also received respectable scores from a pair of specs: Tuesday’s “Museum of TV & Radio’s Great Women of Television Comedy” (2.9/8) and Sunday’s two-hour Bob Hope tribute, “100 Years of Hope and Humor” (2.6/8).
On the down side, the Peacock’s “Hunter” (1.1/4 in A18-49) may be headed for the chopping block after placing fourth at 8 on Saturday with its first try this millenium as a series. CBS’ “Touched by an Angel” defeated it by 31% in 18-49.
ABC, third in both adults 18-49 and 18-34, joined Fox as the only nets to show year-to-year gains in all key demos. A two-hour “Bachelor” helped (5.6/15 in adults 18-49), although the series continues to perform more sluggishly than its previous editions.
The Alphabet also led in 18-49 on Tuesday at 10 with “NYPD Blue” (4.3/12) and on Sunday with its annual airing of “The Ten Commandments” (4.2/12).
CBS, without an original “CSI” or “Survivor” and with some anemic weekend scores, placed fourth in adults 18-49 and third in adults 25-54. A repeat “CSI” still led its hour in 25-54 (8.0/19) and total viewers, while spinoff “CSI: Miami” led its Monday hour (5.4/14 in adults 18-49).
Net won Monday with an all-original lineup, boosted by a strong showing for “Yes, Dear,” which continues to build on its lead-in (“King of Queens”) more than any other 8:30 comedy on any net.
Hurting the net was a weak perf by Susan Sarandon made-for “Ice Bound” on Sunday (Daily Variety, April 22) and continued soft scores for “Star Search.” On Friday, NBC’s “America’s Most Talented Kid” (2.8/10 in 18-49) opened up a 47% advantage over “Star” (1.9/7).
The WB’s “Angel” delivered its best male demos in more than two years and the best adults 18-49 rating (2.3/6) since its season premiere. It built on its “Dawson’s Creek” lead-in by a big 26%.
UPN’s hip-hop drama “Platinum” bowed to mediocre scores on Tuesday after receiving modest sampling in a Monday preview episode (Daily Variety, April 16 and 17).
Among basic cable networks, TNT moved back on top among adults 18-49 (0.9 national rating), followed by Fox News Channel and USA (tied at 0.7). Fox News remained on top in total viewers (3.1 million, up 148% year-to-year), with its best numbers coming on Friday evening, with coverage of the Laci Peterson murder case.