NBC, CBS Tops In Downbeat Primetime Week
Collectively, the six broadcast networks were off vs. the same week a year ago by 17% in both total viewers and the coveted adults 18-49 demo -- their biggest decline of the summer. None of the networks was immune to year-to-year falloffs, with ABC and Fox suffering the biggest collapses, according to Nielsen Media Research.
NBC rolled to its 14th straight weekly victory in adults 18-49 during the week of July 16-22, although its 3.0 rating in the demo matches a summer low. "Fear Factor" (6.1 rating, 20 share) and "Weakest Link" (4.7/13) topped the adults 18-49 rankings, which included seven NBC programs overall.
(Each adults 18-49 rating point represents 1.24 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it's measured against only the homes or viewers watching TV during the time slot involved.)
NBC also prevailed in adults 18-34 for a 10th straight week, a category it had won only four times in the six months prior to this stretch.
CBS' first-place finish in total viewers -- and its largest audience in six weeks -- was fueled by a rare Wednesday victory and solid scores from six newsmag editions (one every night but Saturday). "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," at Nos. 8 and 9 respectively, were the week's top two scripted series.
CBS also moved up to second in adults 18-49 -- its highest standing in seven weeks -- with two episodes of "Big Brother" finishing in the top 20.
Original episodes of ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" held the week's top two spots in total viewers, led by Tuesday's hour (13.94 million). But the network continues to struggle in demos, with only three shows among the week's top 20 in adults 18-49.
Fox slipped to fourth place in adults 18-49 for the third time this summer despite winning both Saturday and Sunday. Net's Monday dramas continue to repeat poorly, and original programming on Thursday and Friday aren't doing much.
UPN topped the WB for a ninth straight week, although its weekly average audience was its smallest of the summer.
Fox's regular lineup sneaked past ABC in adults 18-49 on July 22, while the latter won in total viewers behind the first of four Top of the Charts edition of "Millionaire" (13.28 million, 3.9/11 in adults 18-49), featuring pop stars Nick Lachey, Darius Rucker and Huey Lewis. It was the quizzer's best Sunday demo delivery in 10 weeks, although its 18-49 score slumped 46% vs. the same night a year ago.
CBS was first in total viewers but fourth in adults 18-49, dragged down by a soft performance for repeat TV movie "Going Home" (1.8/5).
A special repeat "Fear Factor" won the 7 o'clock hour in adults 18-49 (2.4/9), although NBC bombed later in the night with the premiere of theatrical "Night Falls on Manhattan" (1.8/5).
Fox won in adults 18-49 (2.2/8) but was down by 21% from the same night a year ago.
It was a close battle in the lead-off hour, with CBS' "Big Brother 2" inching up to a Saturday high in total viewers (5.13 million), a close second to Fox's "Cops" (5.37 million for the hour). The two also finished in a virtual tie among adults 18-49 (1.9/8).
ABC finished first from 9 to 11 in adults 18-49 with the network premiere of "Kingpin," albeit with a meager 2.1/7.
Lineup changes improved the fortunes of ABC and CBS but not Fox.
ABC won the night by most measures as the return of "America's Funniest Home Videos" took the 8 o'clock hour (7.78 million, 2.6/11 in adults 18-49), more than doubling what "Making the Band" had logged there the previous week. It was the network's best showing in the hour since May and led into the best score in six weeks for "Millionaire" (2.7/10 in adults 18-49 for a repeat).
CBS grabbed its best Friday 18-49 average (1.9/7) in seven weeks, boosted by the timeslot premieres of "That's Life" at 9 (1.8/7) and "48 Hours" at 10 (2.4/8). While "48 Hours" lagged behind both ABC's "20/20" and NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" (both 3.0/10), the newsmagazine topped the previous nine scores of "Nash Bridges" in the hour.
NBC won in adults 18-49 for an 11th straight week, led by "Friends" (4.2/15). "Will & Grace," though, isn't performing especially well coming out of "Spy TV," as the laffer slid to its lowest demo score of the summer (3.9/12).
"Big Brother 2" was down slightly week-to-week in total viewers (8.79 million) but still won its hour and paced a CBS victory on the night. "Brother" held steady in adults 18-49 (3.7/13), placing second to NBC's "Friends"/"Spy TV" combo (4.0/14).
"Guinness World Records" returned to Fox's lineup with a fifth-place finish in 18-49 (1.9/6), followed by a similar result for "Night Visions" (2.0/6), which was down slightly from its week-earlier bow.
"Millionaire" was the night's most-watched show (12.39 million) but came in third in adults 18-49 for its hour (2.8/9).
CBS' "48 Hours" won the 10 o'clock hour in total viewers (9.63m) and adults 25-54 (4.1/12), while NBC's "ER" won out in adults 18-49 (3.6/11).
CBS won in total viewers and adults 25-54 while finishing just a tick behind NBC and Fox for the 18-49 lead. "60 Minutes II" logged its best score of the summer in its intended fall time slot (10.08 million, 2.6/9 in adults 18-49), while "Murder at 75 Birch" followed with the network's largest Wednesday movie audience since April (11.33 million).
In its second week back in the lineup, Fox's "Family Guy" finished a solid second in adults 18-49 at 9:30 (3.1/9) and won its half-hour by 3 shares in adults 18-34 (3.4/11).
ABC's "The Beast" (3.50 million, 1.3/4 in adults 18-49) fell to lowest-yet marks, settling for one-half of its weak premiere 18-49 average of five weeks earlier. Its comedy/gameshow "You Don't Know Jack" (5.03 million, 2.2/7) also continues to fizzle after an OK start.
"Big Brother" won its hour in adults 18-49 for the first time this summer (3.6/12), edging out "Millionaire" (3.4/11) and NBC's "Spy TV"/"Friends" combo (3.3/11).
Fox's all-laffer lineup fizzled, with "Malcolm in the Middle" at 9 (2.4/7) and "Grounded for Life" at 9:30 (2.1/6) finishing well behind comedies on ABC and NBC, and even trailing CBS' "60 Minutes II" (2.5/7), which hit a Tuesday summer high.
NBC rolled on July 16, winning all six half-hours in adults 18-49. "Fear Factor" (6.1/20) topped its closest competitor, CBS' repeat comedies, by 12 shares.