Fox takes 18-through-49 crown - Broadcasting & Cable

Fox takes 18-through-49 crown

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After a sweeps that CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves characterized as
"perhaps the craziest in show-business history," Fox claimed its first
18-through-49 win in its history, toppling NBC from its 18-through-49 perch for
the first time since February 2000.

The final score: Fox 5.6, NBC 4.8.

CBS will take third in the demo with a 4.2, fueled by the strength of the
Grammys and last Monday night, and ABC will come in fourth with a 4.0.

Fox also won sweeps in adults 18 through 34 by two ratings points and in
teens 12 through 17 by 2.5 ratings points.

"This shows a great deal of network strength, fueled by Joe Millionaire
and American Idol," said Sandy Grushow, chairman of Fox Television
Entertainment Group. "Fox is the only network with two big hits on its schedule.
Both series were incredibly saleable and incredibly profitable."

Joe Millionaire finished its seven-episode run as the top show among
viewers 18 through 49 with household incomes greater than $75,000 annually,
Grushow said, and American Idol finished fifth and seventh in that
category.

Even though he was surely biting his nails behind the scenes, NBC
Entertainment president Jeff Zucker was gracious, congratulating Fox executives
on the victory and saying they did a "brilliant job."

Strong competition on two Thursdays from ABC and CBS, combined with Fox
reality juggernauts Joe Millionaire and American Idol on Monday,
Tuesday and Wednesday nights, forced NBC into second place in adults 18 through
49, the key demographic NBC is used to winning handily.

Going forward, NBC is making two scheduling changes for March.

Starting March 21, NBC will move Wednesday-night 8 p.m. drama Ed
to Fridays at 9 p.m. for its last three episodes of the season.

The move is an attempt to protect the show from the strength of American
Idol
at 8:30 p.m., Zucker said.

Since November, Ed has declined in adults 18 through 49 by almost 30
percent, and it is flat year-to-year.

The Search for the Most Talented Kid in America will premiere at 8 p.m.
Friday, March 21, leading into Ed, and run for four weeks.

Zucker seemed disappointed in the performance of midseason drama Mister
Sterling
, which airs Fridays at 8 p.m.

"It's improved on Providence's performance by a tenth of a ratings
points, so we've traded Providence for Providence. If I wanted to
do that, I would have just stayed with Providence," he said.

And while Zucker said he was happy with the performance of miniseries
Kingpin, he added that he made a mistake scheduling the show on Sundays
and Tuesdays.

"If I could do it again, I would run it on six Sundays," he said. "It's a very
strong contender to return next fall," he added, with a decision likely to come
before the upfronts in May.

Kingpin won the time period in four of the six nights it aired, and on
all three Sundays, Zucker said.

Although ABC took fourth in the sweeps, down from its second-place finish in
November, the network was encouraged by its 30 percent improvement in adults 18
through 49 over its sweeps performance last year, said Lloyd Braun, chairman of
ABC Entertainment Television Group.

The network is also up 28 percent in adults 18 through 34 and 31 percent in
viewers.

"We are in the middle of what is turning out to be a very successful season
for ABC," Braun said. "We are very pleased as to the progress we've made this
year, although we recognize that there is still a ton of work left to do."

That work starts on Thursday night, which has depressed the network's ratings
results across the entire schedule.

Although reality series Are You Hot? has been disparaged by critics,
the show has improved its Thursday 9 p.m. time slot by 130 percent over what ABC
was airing there in November.

That spot will remain a reality wheel for the foreseeable future, ABC
Entertainment president Susan Lyne said.

Lyne also said ABC will return 10 of its scripted shows: Alias, 8
Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter
, According to Jim, Life with Bonnie, Less Than
Perfect
, George Lopez, My Wife and Kids, America's Funniest
Home Videos
, The Bachelor 4 and NYPD Blue, which ABC renewed
earlier this year.

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