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Most-Watched Oscars in 14 Years, Return of ‘Scandal’ Power ABC to Weekly Victory

It didn’t get much help from its two new shows to bow last week — “Mind Games” and “Mixology” — but an extra night of “The Bachelor,” the return of “Scandal” and a big finish from Sunday’s Oscars has lifted ABC to a rare weekly victory.

The Alphabet, which had its most-watched frame in four years, also claimed the top program among young adults on Wednesday (“Modern Family”) and Friday (“Shark Tank”).

Overall, the first week following the Olympics brought out premieres across the dial. In addition to the ABC pair, NBC launched comedies “About a Boy” and “Growing Up Fisher,” and there were the season openers for returnees including CBS’ “Survivor,” NBC’s “Hannibal” and cable dramas “Dallas” on TNT, “The Americans” on FX and “The Vikings” on History.

Looking at the Nielsen numbers, ABC cruised in the Feb. 24-March 2 frame with a 3.3 rating/10 share in adults 18-49, followed by NBC (1.8/5), CBS (1.7/5) and Fox (1.3/4). It also dominated in adults 25-54 (3.9/10 to 2.4/6 for runner-up CBS) and total viewers (11.6 million to 8.5 million for CBS).

For the Alphabet, Christian Slater-Steve Zahn drama “Mind Games” opened modestly Tuesday at 10 (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.58m) despite following a strong, off-night episode of “The Bachelor” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 8.13 million viewers overall) — but was at least an improvement over recent timeslot slot occupant “Killer Women. And one night later, “Mixology” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.98m) placed fourth in its timeslot with its premiere.

Thursday saw dominant perfs by both “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 9.42 million viewers overall) and “Scandal” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 9.32m), which were airing for the first time since their fall finales and delivered their best scores since early October.

And on Friday, “Shark Tank” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 7.79m) matched its second best numbers of the season while “20/20” controlled its hour in demos (1.8/6 in 18-49, 7.32m) and remains 2014’s top-rated newsmag in adults 25-54.

And of course, the Oscars capped off the week in a big way as the Ellen DeGeneres-hosted kudocast drew the best numbers for any entertainment telecast this season (13.1/33 in 18-49, 43.74m) — rising vs. last year across the board and hitting a 14-year high in total viewers. The last non-sports program to draw a larger overall audience was the finale of NBC’s “Friends” in May 2004.

Elsewhere, NBC followed up 18 nights of Olympics with a strong Monday courtesy of the return of “The Voice” (4.7/13 in 18-49, 15.86 million viewers overall) and “The Blacklist” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 11.18m). And one night later, following another hour of “The Voice,” repeats of the series premieres of “About a Boy” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 8.08m) and “Growing Up Fisher” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 7.05m) easily beat their Fox comedy competition; the shows had been previewed over the weekend during the net’s coverage of the Sochi Games.

Friday’s second-season premiere of “Hannibal” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.27 million viewers overall), airing at 10 p.m. behind “Grimm” (1.4/5, 5.32m), slightly outperformed the 1.0 demo average of “Dracula” in the timeslot earlier this season but left the net well behind ABC and CBS in the hour.

CBS was led as usual by “The Big Bang Theory” (5.0/16 in 18-49, 17.73m), “How I Met Your Mother” (3.6/11 in 18-49, 9.28m) and “NCIS” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 17.03m).

Also of note was a solid season opener Wednesday for “Survivor” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 9.40m), which wasn’t too far behind Fox’s “American Idol” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 10.78m). And one night later, a timeslot flip seemed to help both “Two and a Half Men” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 10.02m) and “The Crazy Ones” (1.9/5, 7.41m), which posted demo gains.

Fox had a quiet week, as “The Following” hit lows (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.61m) and “Glee” looked shaky as it moved to its tough Tuesday timeslot (1.2/4 in 18-49, 2.99m). And newcomers “Rake” on Thursday (0.8/2 in 18-49, 3.45m) and “Enlisted” on Friday (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.90m) could only manage 2 shares.

CW was led by vet “Supernatural” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.12m) and “Arrow” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.45m), but newcomer “Star-Crossed” didn’t exactly shine in its second week on Monday (0.3/1 in 18-49, 1.14m).

“Dallas” kicked off its third season (and the first without Larry Hagman), averaging a 0.75/2 in 18-49 and 2.66 million total viewers — down about 5% from its 2013 opener. In Live +3, though, it moved ahead of its year-ago preem by 6% in adults 18-49 and 2% in adults 25-54.

FX’s “The Americans” opened its second season Wednesday (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.90m) down sharply as expected from its series premiere of last year but still the show’s second best scores to date. And in L+3, it grew to a 1.25 demo rating and 3.26 million total viewers.

At History, Thursday’s season 2 premiere of “Vikings” averaged a 1.3/4 in 18-49 and 3.55 million total viewers. While down from its year-ago premiere (which followed the highly rated miniseries “The Bible”), it outperformed the show’s averages for its final four episode of last year (without “The Bible” as a lead-in) by 10% in key male demos, 6% in adults 18-49 and 3% in total viewers. Head-to-head, “Vikings” beat out NBC’s “Parenthood” and CBS’ “Elementary” in both adults 18-34 and men 18-49.

Meanwhile, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (6.4/14 in 18-49, 12.61m) hung tough despite facing the Oscars, again ruling as the week’s No. 1 series in 18-49. Post-show chat series “Talking Dead” also continues to do well (2.6/6 in 18-49, 5.00m) — tying “NCIS” for 16th in 18-49 last week.

WEEKLY NETWORK AVERAGES

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)

ABC            3.3/10
NBC            1.8/5
CBS             1.7/5
Fox              1.3/4
UNI             1.1/3
CW              0.6/2
TEL             0.5/1

Total Viewers

ABC           11.55 million
CBS             8.48 million
NBC            6.30 million
Fox              4.41 million
UNI             2.99 million
CW              1.50 million
TEL             1.10 million

WEEK’S TOP PRIMETIME PROGRAMS
(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.   86th Annual Academy Awards (ABC), 13.1/33
2.  Oscar’s Red Carper-8 p.m. (ABC), 6.9/19
3.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 6.4/14
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 5.0/16
5.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 4.7/13
6.  Oscar’s Red Carpet-7:30 p.m. (ABC), 4.5/13
7.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 3.7/11
8.  How I Met Your Mother (CBS), 3.6/11
9.  Scandal (ABC), 3.4/10
10.  Oscar’s Red Carpet-7 p.m. (ABC), 3.1/10
10.  The Blacklist (NBC), 3.1/9
10.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 3.1/9
10.  Modern Family (ABC), 3.1/9
14.  The Millers (CBS), 2.7/8
14.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 2.7/8
16.  NCIS (CBS), 2.6/8
16.  Talking Dead (AMC), 2.6/6
18.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 2.5/7
18.  The Bachelor (ABC), 2.5/7
18.  The Bachelor special-Tuesday (ABC), 2.5/7
18.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 2.5/7

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  86th Annual Academy Awards (ABC), 43.74
2.  Oscar’s Red Carpet-8 p.m. (ABC), 26.92
3.  Oscar’s Red Carpet-7:30 p.m. (ABC), 18.71
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 17.72
5.  NCIS (CBS), 17.03
6.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 15.86
7.  Oscar’s Red Carpet-7 p.m. (ABC), 14.76
8.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 13.15
9.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 13.04
10.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 12.61
11.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 11.96
12.  The Blacklist (NBC), 11.18
13.  The Millers (CBS), 11.04
14.  Person of Interest (CBS), 11.00
15.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 10.78
16.  Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), 10.61
17.  Two and a Half Men (CBS), 10.02
18.  American Idol-Thursday (Fox), 10.01
19.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 9.42
19.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 9.42

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