Reality hits give Fox jump-start on sweeps

Feb 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

It’s shaping up to be a more brutal than usual sweeps race for the advertiser-coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic.
Fox got off to a hot start, edging out perennial demo leader NBC to win the first week of February sweeps 5.2/13 to 5.1/13, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Powered by reality shows “Joe Millionaire” and two editions of “American Idol,” which have been blowing away their time slot competitors by high double-digit to triple-digit percentages, Fox won five nights in a row (Saturday to Wednesday) in the demo. “Idol” also boosted scripted series “24,” “Bernie Mac” and “That ’70s Show” above their season-to-date averages last week.
NBC is a close second thanks to its solid Thursday lineup of supersized 40-minute episodes of sitcoms “Friends,” “Scrubs,” “Will & Grace” and “ER” on the first night of sweeps. NBC’s “Kingpin” and ABC’s “Dragnet” both premiered on the first Sunday night of sweeps, going head-to-head in the same time slot. “Kingpin” won the adults 18 to 49 race with a 5.3 rating/14 vs. “Dragnet’s” 4.7/12. “Dragnet” just edged out “Kingpin” in total viewers with 13.2 million compared with 12.5 million.
“Kingpin” slipped 16 percent in adults 18 to 49 in its second airing Tuesday night, but that was still good enough to win the time slot in the demo.
NBC made several defensive moves last week. The network will pull “Scrubs” and “Good Morning, Miami” from its lineup this Thursday in favor of two 40-minute “Friends” episodes (one a repeat) and a 40-minute “Will & Grace” to battle the 90-minute debut episode of CBS’s “Survivor: Amazon” and a 90-minute “CSI.”
NBC also is ridding its Tuesday 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) time slot of sitcoms and instead will challenge “American Idol” with “Outrageous Game Show Moments” specials (Feb. 11 and Feb. 18) and the summer series “Dog Eat Dog,” starting Feb. 25.
The WB has seen the greatest gains of any network in the sweeps thus far, up 24 percent among adults 18 to 49, 39 percent among adults 18 to 34 and 26 percent among total viewers. Much of the gains are due to Tuesday hits “Smallville,” which last week won its time period in persons 12 to 34, and “Gilmore Girls,” which was No. 3 in its time slot in persons 12 to 34 and adults 18 to 34 against competition from “American Idol.”
ABC and CBS were both up across the board compared with the same period last year, while Fox and UPN were down double-digit percentages across the board. Fox was down double-digit percentages because it aired the Super Bowl during last February’s sweeps. Without the Super Bowl numbers figured in, Fox is actually up 10 percent in adults 18 to 34, 6 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 6 percent in total viewers. NBC is down 14 percent in adults 18 to 34, down 7 percent in adults 18 to 49 and flat in total viewers.