Grammys keep Eye in tight race with Fox

Nets split weekly ratings, tie for demos

CBS and Fox split the weekly ratings honors last week and now are in a tie for the season’s lead among young adults as well.

The Eye, getting a nice boost from the Grammy Awards on Sunday, notched a weekly victory in adults 25-54 and total viewers while tying Fox in the closely watched adults 18-49 race, according to Nielsen in-home viewing estimates for the Feb. 7-13 frame.

CBS and Fox led the pack with a 4.5 rating/11 share in the key 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (3.9/10) and NBC (3.6/9). The WB (1.5/4) opened up some distance over rival UPN (1.2/3) for fifth place.

And for the season, CBS actually has an advantage over Fox of nearly one-tenth of a ratings point in adults 18-49 through 21 weeks (4.05 to 3.96), but the rounded-off figures have both nets at a 4.0. The Eye is a solid leader in adults 25-54 and total viewers.

18-49 milestone near

Fox, the season leader in under-35 categories, has clearly been a net on the move in 2005 and is now a fairly sizable favorite to capture the season in 18-49 for the first time in its history.

Last week, Fox rode two big hours of “American Idol,” hot dramas “House” and “24” and a special Saturday NASCAR race.

“Idol” segs on Tuesday (12.0 rating/30 share in adults 18-49, 28.77 million viewers overall) and Wednesday (11.4/26 in 18-49, 26.08m) were the week’s top two programs in adults 18-49. The former was the week’s most-watched show overall.

“House” followed “Idol” on Tuesday with its best numbers to date (5.9/14 in 18-49, 14.97m) — and the highest 18-49 score for a regular Fox drama since the second-season finale of “24” in May 2003.

Net also dominated Saturday with a NASCAR race from Daytona Beach, Fla. (3.9/13 in 18-49, 9.53m).

Over at CBS, Sunday’s Grammy kudocast may have settled for its lowest demo scores in eight years (8.1/19 in 18-49, 18.80m), but it won Sunday for the Eye, which also took Monday and Thursday (tied with NBC) in 18-49.

All three editions of the “CSI” franchise won their hours last week, led by Thursday’s original (9.2/22 in 18-49, 27.85m) and Monday’s “Miami” (6.8/17 in 18-49, 18.82m).

Also, “Everybody Loves Raymond” was the week’s No. 1 comedy (5.9/13 in 18-49, 17.49m), and the finale of “The Amazing Race 6” delivered solid numbers Tuesday (5.2/13 in 18-49, 12.61m).

Maintaining momentum

ABC used original episodes of “Lost” (7.5/19 in 18-49, 19.48m) and “Desperate Housewives” (9.7/21 in 18-49, 22.30m) to stay ahead of NBC for the week, making it 11 times in the last 12 weeks that the net has improved upon its year-ago performance.

Sunday’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (6.8/16 in 18-49, 16.55m) remained strong despite facing the Grammys, and Friday’s “20/20” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 10.68m) was again the week’s No. 1 newsmag in 25-54.

NBC was solid in spots, like Thursday with “ER” (7.9/20 in 18-49, 17.07m) and ‘The Apprentice” (7.2/17, 15.13m), but slipped to fourth because of weakness in others, such as comedy “Committed” on Tuesday (fourth-place 2.6/6 in 18-49, 5.77m) and drama “The West Wing” on Wednesday (firstrun series low 2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.78m).

Tuesday’s “Law & Order: SVU” remains strong (5.2/14 in 18-49, 14.18m) despite tough competish from “Amazing Race” and remains the only NBC drama ahead of its year-ago season averages.

The WB had plenty of bright spots, including “Gilmore Girls” and “Reba” — both of which reached some season highs — but was dragged down by the soft “Jack & Bobby” on Wednesday (1.0/2 in 18-49, 2.23m) and the fading “Charmed” on Sunday (1.3/3, 2.95m).

At UPN, highlights include “Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott,” nearing its finale on the upswing (1.4/4 in 18-49, 2.93m), and Tuesday drama “Veronica Mars,” picking up a bit (1.3/3 in 18-49, 2.97m).

On the cable side, ESPN led all ad-supported nets for the week in adults 18-49 (0.88 rating) and total viewers (2.41 million), boosted by Sunday’s NFL “Pro Bowl” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 6.16m). Also performing well Sunday — and perhaps accounting for some of the ratings declines for the Grammys — was a big turnout for the premiere of “Blue Collar Comedy Tour 2” on Comedy Central (2.6/6 in 18-49, 6.10m).

“Blue” stands as the net’s second-most-watched program to date, behind only a 1998 episode of “South Park.”

* * *

On Monday of the current week, CBS and NBC tied in adults 18-49 (5.1/13), with the Eye pulling away in adults 25-54 and total viewers thanks to “CSI: Miami” at 10 (6.9/18 in 18-49, 19.35m). Still, NBC’s “Medium” (5.9/15 in 18-49, 14.52m) remained very competitive opposite “Miami.”

Elsewhere, Fox’s “24” (4.9/12 in 18-49, 11.42m) beat out rival drama “Las Vegas” on NBC (4.7/11, 12.06m) in demos, and the Peacock’s couples edition of “Fear Factor” wrapped with a winning 4.6/12 in 18-49 but was down a steep 45% from last year’s finale (8.4/21).

It was an undistinguished series premiere for UPN laffer “Cuts” at 8:30 (1.3/3 in 18-49, 3.48m), which performed similarly to the comedies surrounding it, matching lead-in “One on One” in most categories.

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