This article was updated at 7:00 p.m.
NBC shook up the primetime landscape in a big way Sunday, with earthquake pic “10.5” pulverizing everything in its path.
On the first Sunday of the four-week May sweep, the opening night of the two-part miniseries racked up the best demo numbers for any NBC movie in five years and the best on any network in more than two. It also showed that, after several years of declining made-for ratings, the nets can still corral auds for event movies.
Combination of the towering temblor tale, which wrapped Monday, and the upcoming finales of “Friends” and “Frasier” has NBC sitting pretty for the month’s coveted adults 18-49 crown. Through Sunday, its prelim four-day sweeps average of a 5.1 rating easily tops second-place CBS’ 3.5, according to Nielsen.
Fox, still a force for the month with plenty of “American Idol” on its sked, was third through Sunday (2.8), narrowly ahead of ABC (2.7).
From 9 to 11 Sunday night, “10.5” erupted with an 8.0 rating/19 share in adults 18-49 — beating ABC’s dramas and CBS’ movie combined — and 20.4 million viewers overall, according to prelim nationals from Nielsen.
This is the highest 18-49 score for any night of a multipart movie since ABC’s “Rose Red” in January 2002 and the best for any movie since CBS docupic “9/11” in March 2002. And no multipart movie has opened to a larger overall audience since the Eye’s “Jesus” in May 2000.
For NBC, it’s the net’s best demo results for any movie since part two of “Noah’s Ark” in May 1999.
Pic, which performed equally well among males and females, built with each half-hour — from a 17 share at 9 to a 22 share at 10:30.
Not surprisingly, the movie, about a series of devastating earthquakes that hit the West Coast beginning with the collapse of the Space Needle, delivered its best score in the local overnights in Seattle, where it commanded 38% of households watching television.
NBC won the night in all key measures (including a 5.0/13 in adults 18-49), although a subpar two-hour “Dateline” (prelim 1.9/6 in 18-49, 6.7 million) kept it from crushing the competish.
ABC and Fox tied for second in 18-49 (prelim 3.9/11), with the former led by series highs for hot reality hour “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (prelim 5.3/13 in 18-49, 12.8 million viewers) and the latter by an hour of “The Simpsons” (4.5/12 in 18-49, 9.4 million viewers).
If it holds up in nationals, “Home Edition’s” 18-49 victory over “The Simpsons” (4.6/13 vs. 4.5/13) would mark the first time in several years that a regularly skedded program has topped a firstrun 8 o’clock seg of the toon vet.
Also for ABC, “Alias” (4.0/9) and “The Practice” (3.6/9) turned in their best 18-49 scores since late November, according to prelim results.
At CBS, “Cold Case” (3.5/9 in 18-49, 14.0 million) again performed well at 8, placing second in adults 25-54 and winning in total viewers. From 9 to 11, made-for “The Book of Ruth” averaged a 3.2/8 in 18-49 and 11.6 million viewers overall.