NBC off to strong start

Oct 1, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Overall TV viewership levels for the first week of the 2001-02 season increased an estimated 3 percent to 5 percent over the previous two years.
Network researchers David Poltrack at CBS and Larry Hyams at ABC estimated that overall HUT levels-homes using television-were up by several million homes vs. last season, which was delayed a month for the Summer Olympics and interrupted by the presidential debates.
“On a comparative basis, [fall] 1999 had more of a traditional start, and certainly the entire TV universe looks to be up by 3 [percent] to 5 percent for the initial start of this season,” said Mr. Poltrack, CBS’s executive vice president of research and planning.
Turning to year-to-year data from Nielsen Media Research, ABC researchers said HUT levels for Sept. 24 were at 66.7 percent for the entire TV universe, an increase of 4 percent over the comparable start last year. Sept. 25’s 64.8 percent HUT score marked a 2 percent increase, but HUT levels on Sept. 26 (63.5 percent) and last Thursday (64.3) turned in 1 percent decreases.
The winner of the week, with only Monday-to-Thursday ratings in at deadline, looks to be NBC. Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research and media development, projected that the network will win the first week of the new season with a 5.8 rating in adults 18 to 49, an increase he estimated will be 35 percent over the 4.3 rating scored for premiere week least season. He also projected that ABC will end up with a 4.7 rating (up 2 percent), followed by CBS’s 4.2 rating (down 16 percent) and Fox’s 3.5 rating (down 26 percent).
Without CBS’s “Survivor: Africa” (opening Oct. 11) to compete against, NBC’s lineup dominated Thursday evening, posting a top-ranked 12.9 rating/32 share average among adults 18 to 49 in Nielsen’s fast national data-though it was down 9 percent from the evening’s year-ago opening.
Despite winning the evening, NBC may still have a trouble spot in the post-“Friends” time slot-“Inside Schwartz” won its time period with an 11.1/29 among adults 18 to 49, but that was a 27 percent drop from “Friends”’ 15.2/42.
“Sure we’re a little concerned about the slight lead-in dropoff for `Inside Schwartz,”’ Mr. Wurtzel said, “but to get initial sampling with 22 million viewers is something positive for a genre that traditionally takes longer to develop.
Other highlights last week:
* UPN had its second-highest-rated night ever among adults 18 to 49 with the premiere of “Star Trek” prequel “Enterprise,” which scored a 6.3 rating/16 share in the demo-good enough to win Sept. 26 in the demo.
* CBS’s Tuesday drama lineup, featuring the season opener of “JAG” (5.0/13), the premiere of “The Guardian” (4.2/10) and the return of “Judging Amy” (4.7/12), got off to a strong start on Sept. 25. However, ABC’s hour-long openers of “Dharma & Greg” (5.0/14) and “Spin City” (6.5/15), in addition to the premiere of Steven Bochco’s “Philly” (5.3/14), gave it a narrow second-place spot (5.6/14) behind NBC (5.9/14) for the evening. Fox’s opening of “That ’70s Show” (5.7/16) won the 8 p.m. frame in adults 18 to 49, while new college comedy “Undeclared” (5.1/13) closed the hour on top with 90 percent retention of its lead-in.
* NBC’s“Crossing Jordan” turned in a strong 6.1/15 score in adults 18 to 49 in its 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. Monday debut on Sept. 24.
* NBC’s “Emeril” struggled with a 3.5/10 among adults 18 to 49 in its Tuesday debut on Sept. 25. Its companion show, “Three Sisters,” managed only a 3.7/9.