In the face of huge competition from Fox's American Idol, NBC looks to have won the season and the May sweeps in the key adults 18-49 sales demographic, while CBS prevailed for the second season and sixth sweeps in a row in total viewers.
NBC, which has won the last three sweeps in 18-49, attributed its strength, largely missing at the start of this season, to four shows--this season's biggest breakout hit, The Apprentice; the return of Crossing Jordan to Sunday's lineup; the emergence of Las Vegas as the number-one new drama among young adults; and the little reality show that could, Average Joe.
NBC also continues to get strong performances out of all three Law & Order franchises, and its Thursday nights remained strong as ever thanks to the combination of The Apprentice and Friends last season.
While the Peacock certainly had some regular-series showings to crow about, it got a big assist in May from disaster epic 10.5 and an epic 24.9 on the ratings scale for the final episode of Friends.
While NBC said at last week's upfront presentations that The Apprentice's second run would end next April, NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker revised that statement during Tuesday's conference call, saying that the hit reality show starring Donald Trump would conclude during May sweeps.
NBC told advertisers last week that it would introduce new sitcoms Crazy for You and The Men's Room on Thursday in May after The Apprentice concludes. On Tuesday, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said: "I can't commit to you when and where the new comedies will be on. We've got new pilots we've fired up already, and we'll be seeding in comedy throughout the year, starting possibly in the fourth quarter and then in the spring and definitely in the summer."
Making NBC's comedy plans more complicated is the fact that they have ordered 13 episodes of Father of the Pride, but, because of the show's long lead time, will have to decide on whether they want more episodes almost before the season starts. "Even in success we are going to have to bring something else in," Reilly conceded.
Zucker admitted he had “made a mistake" pulling The Restaurant from its Monday 10 p.m. time slot so quickly. "Under some pressure from stations that were not pleased with the lead-in on Monday at 10, I buckled and made a mistake and I regret that I didn't keep The Restaurant in that time period."
The Restaurant, a documentary-style reality series from Mark Burnett and Reveille's Ben Silverman, is moving to Saturday nights for the rest of its run—a move that never signals good things in the lives of TV series.
Eye has it
Over at CBS, Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves was not only crowing about his total-viewer win, but also about CBS's first non-Olympic-year win in adults 25-54 since 1980 and its closest finish to the lead in adults 18-49 since 1993.
Moonves attributed his network's success to three things: 1) development, with Two and a Half Men, Cold Case, NCIS and Joan of Arcadia all contributing; 2) successful scheduling moves, with King of Queens' move to Wednesday at 9, JAG's return to Friday and Cold Case's shoring up of Sunday at 8; 3) and quality programming. "CBS had more prime-time Emmys last season than any other network. The prize, the luster, the title of Tiffany network is back at CBS," Moonves said. "We have reclaimed that mantle."
In other CBS news, The Amazing Race will not only get a slot on CBS's fall schedule this year, it also will stay on the network's summer schedule, premiering Tuesday, July 6 at 10.