CBS, ABC Battle For November Sweeps, Top Season Honors

Fighting it out through the last days of the November sweeps period, CBS has a slight lead over ABC.

Through 19 of 28 days of November--which is still an important period, when local TV stations set advertising rates--CBS has been out in front with a 4.5 rating/12 share in adults 18-49. This is down 2 percent in ratings for CBS from a year ago. ABC is close behind at a 4.3/11--up 10 percent versus a year ago. NBC is way off--down 22 percent to a 3.2/9. Fox brings up the rear among the top four networks with a 3.0/8--the same number as a year ago.

For the smaller networks, UPN is now up on a sinking WB in adults 18-34 to a 1.7/5 against WB's 1.5/5. Last year at this time, the position of the WB and UPN was exactly reversed--the WB was ahead of UPN with a 1.7 rating versus a 1.5.

Much of the November sweeps activity has mimicked the entire season so far.

Through the first nine weeks of the season, CBS and ABC have now been deadlocked in a battle for first place in the key adult viewers 18-49 category. CBS and ABC are both at a 4.1 rating/11 share among 18-49 viewers. NBC is next with a 3.3/9; Fox is a sliver behind at 3.2/9.

ABC is the only network to see gains in virtually all categories versus a year ago--up 5 percent in adults 18-49, up 8 percent in household ratings, 8 percent higher in total viewers, 9 percent more among 25-54 viewers, and up 3 percent in adult viewers 18-34. The only other network to see any gains is UPN, which is higher in one viewer category--adults 18-34. UPN's numbers are 13 percent more this period, with a 1.7/5 rating so far.

Overall, CBS leads in household ratings (8.7/14), viewers (13.4 million), and adults 25-54 (5.2/12) for the season. ABC is the top in adult viewers 18-34, with a 3.3/10.

Still, there is a long way to go. Fox has yet to start "American Idol" and "24"--its two big guns--in January. All the networks seem to be on pace in making a normal amount of mid-season changes.

CBS made announcements this week about two new shows for January starts. Drama "Love Monkey," starring Tom Cavanagh as a record executive, will air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. starting Jan. 17. "The Jenna Elfman Show," meanwhile, will take over the Monday 9:30 p.m. slot on Jan. 23, which bumps "Out of Practice," until March.

Also starting in March will be new shows--Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and a David Mamet action hour, "The Unit."