"Will" Power Fuels NBC's Demographics Streak

by Aug 23, 2001, 12:00 AM
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NBC topped prime-time ratings among young adults for an 18th straight week, a period that again saw the major networks bunched together -- and way down compared with last year.

According to Nielsen Media Research data for the week of Aug. 13-19, the Peacock network won Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday among viewers aged 18-49 and was a strong second on Monday -- even without "Fear Factor." NBC claimed the week's top five shows in the key demographic, led by two Thursday episodes of "Will & Grace."

NBC hasn't lost among 18-49 viewers since mid-April, an 18-week stretch that matches the fourth-longest on record, although its winning score (2.9/9) is the network's lowest this summer. It also won for a 15th straight week in adults 25-54 and a 14th straight in adults 18-34.

ABC won in total viewers for the third time in four weeks, with original episodes of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" again ranking as the week's three most-watched programs. The network was third in 18-49 (just 1 share behind leader NBC) and, for the first time this summer, fourth in 18-34.

CBS ran second in total viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 while grabbing its best adults 18-34 rating (2.1/7) in 12 weeks. CBS was buoyed in the younger demos by a strong showing for Sunday movie "Tin Cup," NFL football on Saturday and a victory for "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" in its head-to-head battle with NBC's "ER."

Fox tied with ABC for third in adults 18-49 but first in men 18-49, claiming three of the week's top four programs -- comedies "The Simpsons," "Malcolm in the Middle" and "That '70s Show" (3.8/14) at No. 4.

Controversy over allegedly reshot scenes boosted UPN's "Manhunt" to its best results thus far as the network again topped the WB by most measures. The Frog network, despite a sluggish start for comedy "Dead Last," hopped to its largest audience in 11 weeks.

MONDAY

ABC and Fox enjoyed their best Mondays since May on Aug. 20, with the former's "Monday Night Football" (10.97 million viewers, 4.4/13 in adults 18-49 for a Broncos-Packers matchup) dominating among men and the latter's "2001 Teen Choice Awards" rolling among young women. "MNF's" demo rating is the best since 1999 for a Monday preseason contest.

The Fox special delivered a whopping 32 share in female teens, up 21 percent in rating vs. last year's Tuesday telecast (10.3/32 vs. 8.5/29) and the highest Monday rating for the network since December 1997. It also was the night's highest-rated show in adults 18-34 (4.0/13) and women 18-34 (4.8/15).

CBS' first try with "Yes, Dear" at 9:30 worked out very well, as the comedy pulled the network's best 18-49 rating in the slot (4.5/12) since May. Its retention of "Everybody Loves Raymond" in 18-49 (4.5/12 vs. 4.6/13) also exceeds every episode of "Becker" to air there.

SUNDAY

CBS putted to its best Sunday since May in adults 18-49 (3.1/9), tying Fox for the lead thanks to a 25-minute PGA Championship golf overrun and repeat theatrical "Tin Cup" (9.38 million viewers, 3.4/9 in adults 18-49). "Cup" delivered the best young-male demographics for the Eye's movie since "Deep Impact" in April.

Fox was led by "The Simpsons," which was the night's top show in adults 18-49 (4.2/13).

SATURDAY

Fox rolled on the night, led by an original "America's Most Wanted" (6.68 million viewers, 2.5/9 in adults 18-49).

Preseason NFL game (Ravens-Jets) drew CBS' smallest audience on a Saturday in at least two seasons (4.87 million viewers), although the network posted its best 18-34 (1.8/7) and male demographics of the summer.

FRIDAY

Fox's Titans-Rams NFL preseason game (5.28 million viewers, 2.4/9 in adults 18-49) was up vs. last season's comparable contest by 26 percent in the demographic. The network won the night in adults 18-34 and all male demographics.

The first segment of UPN's "Manhunt" to air since accusations arose that some of the show's key scenes were reshot improved by 50 percent week to week in the adults 18-49 rating (0.9/3 vs. 0.6/3) for its best numbers in three tries. Still, it finished behind a pair of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" repeats on the WB in total viewers (2.13 million vs. 2.48 million).

CBS' "48 Hours" is struggling in its new time period, posting the Eye's weakest scores of the summer at 10. ABC's "20/20" (10.53 million viewers, 3.4/11 in adults 18-49), which moves to Wednesdays in September, dominated the hour.

THURSDAY

A mini-marathon of "Will & Grace" lifted NBC to its best 18-49 rating in the 8:30-10 p.m. time period (4.7/14) since June, winning each half-hour. Key to the boost was the removal of a fading "Spy TV" at 8:30; with itself as a lead-in, "Will" surged to a 5.0/14 at 9, a 39 percent week-to-week gain.

NBC won in 18-49 by 2 shares over CBS, although the Eye's "CSI" (10.94 million viewers, 4.4/13 in adults 18-49) easily topped "ER" (7.63 million, 3.6/11); it was "CSI's" best demographic score since May 31. ABC edged out CBS in total viewers behind "Millionaire" (12.07 million).

UPN, with the season premiere of "WWF Smackdown," took the night in all young male demographics, while CBS' "Big Brother 2" (9.16 million viewers, 4.1/11 in adults 18-49) was down slightly week to week.

WEDNESDAY

ABC's "The Wayne Brady Show" (8.86 million viewers, 3.7/13 in adults 18-49) was down from its strong premiere a week earlier, but still built nicely upon its repeat "My Wife and Kids" lead-in, including by 19 percent in 18-49 and by 9 percent in 18-34.

NBC won in 18-49 and viewers, as "Law & Order" (11.55 million viewers, 4.6/14) posted its best scores of the summer and ranked as the week's top drama.

The WB had its best Wednesday since May with theatrical "Beetlejuice" (3.90 million viewers, 1.4/5 in adults 18-49).

TUESDAY

In its new slot, the WB's "Gilmore Girls" (3.12 million, 1.4/5 in adults 18-49) posted week-to-week gains, grabbing the network's best 18-49 score in the lead-off hour in seven weeks. At 9, though, the premiere of "Dead Last" (2.74 million, 1.3/4 in adults 18-49) held just 71 percent of "Gilmore's" 18-34 audience (1.2/4 vs. 1.7/6).

Although down week to week, CBS' "Big Brother 2" (8.31 million viewers, 3.7/11 in adults 18-49) won its hour in all key demographics, while Fox's opposing reality entry, "Murder in Smalltown X" (3.80 million viewers, 1.8/5 in adults 18-49), fell to new lows for a third straight week.

ABC won in total viewers, led by "Millionaire" (13.10 million), and tied NBC for the 18-49 lead. Peacock was led by another strong "Dateline" (3.5/10).

MONDAY

Four episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" helped CBS top NBC on Aug. 13, as the Peacock was "Fear Factor"-less for the first time in two months.

- Reuters/Variety

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