×

Fox, CBS play grid aces, NBC a trump

TV ratings race tight

Powerful postseason professional pigskin perfs on two nets and the hottest-starting reality series in a year on another made for an extremely tight ratings race in the first full week of January, with Fox, CBS and NBC all claiming victory in key categories.

That left ABC, one week after its own big football-boosted frame and one week before the return of top show “The Bachelorette,” deep in fourth place.

According to in-home viewing estimates from Nielsen, Fox’s average of a 4.9 rating/13 share edged out CBS and NBC (each at a 4.8 rating) for the adults 18-49 lead during the Jan. 5-11 frame. ABC registered a 3.1/8.

This is Fox’s best average in 11 weeks (since the World Series), CBS’ best in nine weeks (since the “CMA Awards”), and NBC’s strongest delivery in the 15 frames since premiere week.

Category winners

It was such a close three-way battle in the industry’s broadest and most significant demo that there were different winners in tangential categories — depending on age and gender.

CBS pulled ahead in adults 25-54 (6.0/14) and cruised as usual in total viewers (15.6 million), while Fox swept the key male demos and NBC took each of the primary female demos.

The conference-semifinal round of the NFL playoffs played a huge part in the weekly averages of both Fox and CBS, as the Eye crushed the competish with a primetime game on Saturday (10.2/29 in adults 18-49, 25.91 million viewers overall for Patriots-Titans) and Fox was the beneficiary of huge overruns on both Saturday (13.0/39 in 18-49 for 28 minutes of Panthers-Rams) and Sunday (18.0/46 in 18-49 for 75 minutes of Eagles-Packers).

Without the powerful ratings that football brings at this time of year, CBS would have placed a distant second to NBC in 18-49 (4.2 vs. 4.8) and Fox would have been struggling to edge out ABC for third (3.2 vs. 3.1).

There were a lot of highlights among entertainment programs for the week as well, with NBC’s powerful Thursday trio of “Friends,” “ER” and a special preview of reality skein “The Apprentice” joining CBS drama “CSI” in the week’s top five in 18-49.

Nets dominate

Overall, despite year-to-year declines, the broadcast nets dominated the frame, commanding 53% of the 18-49 audience. The top cable show of the week in adults 18-49, MTV’s “The Real World,” tied for No. 76 in the rankings (2.2/6).

At Fox, non-football highlights included best-yet 18-49 ratings for first-year shows “The OC” (4.5/11) and “Arrested Development” (3.4/8) and the second best score to date for reality skein “The Simple Life” (6.1/16), which ends its run this week.

And on Sunday, airing behind football, “The Simpsons” posted its best numbers in 11 months (7.8/18 in 18-49, 16.30m).

On the other hand, the preems of new Friday series “Totally Outrageous Behavior” and “World’s Craziest Videos” didn’t do much, nor did struggling drama “Boston Public.”

CBS, whose adults 25-54 victory was its ninth in 16 weeks this season, received a strong perf from Friday drama “Joan of Arcadia,” which set some series highs and led its 8 o’clock hour in kids, persons 12-34, adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Also of note were the best scores yet for rookie Tuesday drama “Navy NCIS” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 14.51m) and the largest aud in more than a year for Monday’s “CSI: Miami” (20.40m).

‘Apprentice’ strong

At NBC, “The Apprentice” (9.1/22 in 18-49, 18.49m) bowed to the best results for a premiering reality series since Fox’s “Joe Millionaire” a year ago (Daily Variety, Jan. 5), and both “Friends” and “ER” chipped in with best-since-September results.

There were other drama standouts, including series highs for “Las Vegas” (5.6/13 in 18-49, 13.17m) and the best rating in a year for “Law & Order: SVU” (6.0/15 in 18-49). Also, Sunday’s “American Dreams” matched a season high in 18-49 (3.8/9) and was the crowded 8 o’clock hour’s top drama choice among viewers under 50.

ABC did not have any big ratings stories for the week, but it continues to generate winning numbers for some of its comedies.

Rookie Tuesday laffer “I’m With Her” retained a best-yet 100% of its “8 Simple Rules” 18-49 lead-in (4.0/10), while lead-out “According to Jim” (5.0/12) defeated a firstrun of NBC’s “Frasier” by a best-ever 28% (5.0/12 vs. 3.9/10). Net won Friday in 18-49, as “Life With Bonnie” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 8.27m) looked strong in holding all of its “Hope & Faith” lead-in.

‘Cast Away’ draws aud

The Alphabet also scored with Monday’s “Cast Away” (4.5/11 in 18-49, 13.96m), the highest-rated theatrical preem on any net in more than a year.

The WB defeated UPN for fifth-place honors during the week, although both were down sharply vs. a year ago.

Among ad-supported cable networks, TNT (0.84 rating in 18-49, 2.28 million) edged out USA (0.82, 2.22m) for the week’s bragging rights.

Nickelodeon’s new live-action comedy series “Drake & Josh” got off to a good start Sunday at 7:30, attracting 3.2 million viewers and providing big year-to-year gains for the net in kids, teen and tween demos.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Screen writer Beau WillimonMary Queen of

    Beau Willimon Re-Elected as President of Writers Guild of America East

    Beau Willimon, the playwright and showrunner who launched Netflix’s “House of Cards,” has been re-elected without opposition to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America East. Willimon also ran unopposed in 2017 to succeed Michael Winship. Kathy McGee was elected to the vice president slot over Phil Pilato. Secretary-treasurer Bob Schneider [...]

  • Dickinson First Look Teaser

    TV News: Apple Drops New 'Dickinson' Trailer With Hailee Steinfeld (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Apple TV Plus’ “Dickinson” series released a new trailer and Netflix released the trailer for the fifth season of “Peaky Blinders.” DATES The “Cash Cab” revival will come to Bravo on Oct. 7. The game show takes place inside a New York cab, where unsuspecting passengers become contestants in a game of [...]

  • Jennie Snyder Urman, Katie Wech Team

    Jennie Snyder Urman, Katie Wech Team for Medical Drama in Development at CBS

    CBS is developing a medical drama that hails from writer Katie Wech, Variety has learned. Currently titled “Good Sam,” the series follows a talented yet stifled surgeon who embraces her leadership role after her renowned and pompous boss falls into a coma. When he awakens and wants to resume surgery, however, it falls to her to [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Will Gluck

    Will Gluck Sets TV Overall Deal at eOne (EXCLUSIVE)

    Will Gluck has signed a two-year overall television deal with Entertainment One (eOne), Variety has learned exclusively. Under the deal, Richard Schwartz will continue to oversee all television projects for Gluck’s Olive Bridge Entertainment, with eOne set to serve as studio on all projects under the partnership. “The choice for us was clear given their impeccable [...]

  • Katie Hockmeyer

    NBC Entertainment Names Katie Hockmeyer Exec VP of Late Night Programming

    Katie Hockmeyer has been named executive vice president of late night programming at NBC Entertainment She will report to NBC Entertainment co-chairmen George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy, where she will work on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “Saturday Night Live” and newly launched late-night addition, “A Little Late with [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content