Peacock fans tail

New reality at NBC as 'Apprentice' tops demo

The “American Idol” nights of Tuesday and Wednesday may belong to Fox, but NBC is starting to wrest control of several other key nights.

Last week, the Peacock extended its hot streaks on Monday, Thursday and Friday in winning another week among the lucrative sales demo of adults 18-49. Key to the victory was hot Thursday reality skein “The Apprentice,” which topped the weekly rankings in 18-49 for the first time.

For the week, according to in-home viewing estimates by Nielsen, NBC’s 4.0 rating/11 share in 18-49 topped Fox 3.7/11 and was well ahead of both CBS (3.2/9) and ABC (2.8/8). The Peacock also won in adults 25-54 (4.5/12), while CBS led the primetime pack as usual in total viewers (10.98 million).

Overall, four of the top five spots in 18-49 went to unscripted fare: “The Apprentice” (10.7/28), Fox’s “American Idol” on Tuesday (10.1/30) and Wednesday (8.9/28) and CBS’ “Survivor” (7.9/24). Only scripted show in the bunch was NBC’s “ER” (9.4/25).

In total viewership, Tuesday’s “American Idol” was on top (23.46 million), followed by “The Apprentice” (22.03m) and “Survivor” (20.76m).

With “The Apprentice” nearing its finale, last Thursday’s seg dominated its hour, also easily besting the ratings of its Peacock skedmates “ER” and “Will & Grace.” NBC now has won 13 of 14 Thursdays in 18-49 since “The Apprentice” arrived and in that time has shaved its year-to-year losses on its top night from 24% to 9%.

NBC also is leading in 18-49 for the season on Monday, where last week “Fear Factor” (5.6/17, 12.82m) and the finale of “Average Joe: Adam Returns” (5.0/13 in 18-49, 10.90m) combined to win the night in the demo, even though CBS aired the men’s NCAA college basketball title game (6.3/17 in 18-49, 17.09m).

And on Friday, “Third Watch” and another two-hour “Dateline” paced the net’s eighth victory in nine weeks.

‘Swan’ lovely

At Fox, an extra half-hour of “Idol” on Wednesday boosted the tune-in for its lead-out, new makeover series “The Swan” (Daily Variety, April 5). And Tuesday’s “24” (4.8/13 in 18-49, 10.77m) looked pretty good, holding onto more of its “Idol” lead-in and winning its hour.

Net still isn’t generating much out of critical fave “Arrested Development” (2.3/5 in 18-49) or Monday laffer “Cracking Up” (1.6/5), which aired its last skedded seg of the season.

CBS, second in adults 25-54 and first in men 25-54, thanks to basketball, was paced by “Survivor,” which easily led its Thursday timeslot. Net also was more competitive than usual on Saturday, with a repeat of “The Whole Nine Yards” (2.0/7 in 18-49, 7.55m).

Fourth-place ABC closed the gap a bit and was up year-to-year thanks to a strong Sunday courtesy of “Nick & Jessica Variety Hour” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (Daily Variety, April 13). And Monday’s three-hour Peter Jennings report on “Jesus and Paul” drew solid numbers (3.0/8 in 18-49, 11.19m).

The WB, led by an original seg of “One Tree Hill,” topped UPN for fifth place in adults 18-34 (1.2/4 vs. 0.9/3). UPN saw its lowest score of the season, down 36% vs. last year.

Among ad-supported cable nets, TNT was on top (0.69 rating) thanks to “Law & Order” repeats and two airings of theatrical “Swordfish,” with FX and USA tied for second (0.63).

Comedy Central’s “Chapelle’s Show” was the week’s No. 1 program in both adults 18-49 (2.3/6) and 18-34 (3.6/11). FX’s original Sunday movie “Redemption” was the top cable pic in total viewers (4.03m) and the top non-sports cable program overall in adults 25-54 (1.8/4).

* * *

On Monday of the current week, NBC’s “Miss USA” hit eight-year highs (4.9/12 in 18-49, 13.10m), teaming with “Fear Factor” (5.9/17, 14.66m) to give the net an easy victory. The pageant was up 12% from last year’s 4.4 rating in the demo and up 75% from the 2.8 that CBS generated in its final year with the event in 2002.

Fox’s “The Swan” (3.9/10 in 18-49, 8.31m) took a hit without an “American Idol” lead-in as it moved to its regular night. Surgery/makeover skein tied for second in 18-49 with a pair of “Two and a Half Men” repeats on CBS.

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