Prime time battles begin
In official first week, some promising signs for all—but it's still awfully early
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/29/2002 8:00:00 PM
At the end of premiere week, CBS and NBC were battling for No. 1 status, while ABC saw glimmers of hope. Of the younger-skewing broadcast nets—Fox, The WB and UPN—WB has the biggest reason to smile, scoring ratings victories on both Monday and Tuesday nights.
Even with Monday Night Football on ABC, CBS is the network to beat on Monday night. Last week, with a lineup of King of Queens; Yes, Dear; two episodes of the Emmy-showered Everybody Loves Raymond; and the series premiere of much ballyhooed CSI: Miami at 10 p.m., CBS took first in households in every half-hour, according to Nielsen national ratings.
NBC held up in its key demos with Celebrity Fear Factor from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET/PT. The daredevil show won in adults 18-34 and 18-49 until 9 p.m. but then was vanquished by Raymond, which in turn handed its lead over to CSI: Miami. That spinoff lived up to its hype with a 14.9 rating/23 share.
Tuesday night remains a shoot-out, with no network dominating. The season premiere of NBC's Frasier was the big winner, with a 15.6/22 in households. No show was a close second, and Frasier's lead-in built a huge audience for NBC's new comedy, Hidden Hills, which garnered a 10.9/15.
NBC ran its new comedy In-Laws at 8 and 8:30 p.m. The show built on its ratings from one half-hour to the next, giving it third place at 8 p.m. and second at 8:30 p.m. This week, NBC plans to give In-Laws a similar shot, delaying the premiere of Just Shoot Me until Oct. 8.
NBC is putting In-Laws against ABC's 8 Simple Rules, which did well in the coveted 18-49 demo in its second week, winning with a 4.8/14. Life With Bonnie wasn't as strong, taking third at 8:30 p.m. and decreasing 32% from its Sept. 17 premiere. The real test comes this week when ABC returns According to Jim at 8:30 p.m. and premieres Less Than Perfect at 9:30 p.m.
The Cinderella story of premiere week is The WB, whose Monday-night shows 7th Heaven and Everwood held strong and whose Tuesday-night premieres—third-season hit Gilmore Girls and second-year Smallville —scored record-breaking ratings for the network in the demos WB targets.
The network is particularly excited about Smallville, saying it is "more powerful than any show in the WB's history." Smallville set all-time records for the network in adults 18-34, men 18-34 and men 18-49.
Wednesday night was no surprise, with NBC's West Wing taking households and adults 18-49 and 25-54, according to Nielsen's fast affiliate ratings. The two-hour premiere of the White House drama made it tough on the debuts of two medical shows at 10 p.m.: CBS's Presidio Med won the battle for No. 2 in viewers and households; ABC's MDs, in the key adult demos.
ABC was "thrilled," one executive said, with the performance of a double run of Damon Wayans'My Wife and Kids at 8 and 8:30 p.m., against Bernie and Cedric the Entertainer Presents on Fox. Wife and Kids won in households and key adult demos.
NBC won Thursday night, with CBS its only serious competitor. Roughly half the key adult demos (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54) were tuned to NBC or CBS throughout the night. NBC got off to a huge start at 8 p.m.: The premiere of Friends, the series' most-watched premiere ever, scored a 20.1/31 in households and averaged a 40 share among the key demos. In the 8-9 p.m. hour, CBS averaged about a 20 share in key adult demos with Survivor: Thailand. CBS won the 9-10 p.m. hour with CSI.
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