Driven by its music reality competition “American Idol,” Fox took a solid lead in the adults 18 to 49 ratings demographic for the first week of May sweeps. In the season-to-date averages, the network is still in a close race with CBS for the top demo spot.
For the first seven days of the May sweeps, Fox scored a 4.3 rating in the adults 18 to 49 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research, up 8 percent from the same period in 2004.
ABC, still enjoying the success of its rookie series “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” and the surprise success of its midseason addition “Grey’s Anatomy,” took the No. 2 spot for the first week of sweeps with a 3.9 in the demo, a 39 percent increase over its performance last year.
CBS, relying on its “CSI” franchise, the reality series “Survivor” and top-rated sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” was close behind with a 3.8 for the first week of sweeps in adults 18 to 49, a 9 percent jump from a year ago.
NBC, feeling the loss of “Friends” and “Frasier,” was down 36 percent from last year to a 3.4 in the demo.
The WB, which saw most of its new fall offerings fail and has not had a midseason breakout hit, dropped 6 percent over its performance last year in adults 18 to 49 to a 1.5 in the sweeps.
UPN, propelled by “America’s Next Top Model,” grew 27 percent year to year for an average of 1.4 for the first week of sweeps.
In total viewers, CBS remained dominant during the week with an average of 13.32 million, followed by Fox (10.14 million), ABC (9.91 million), NBC (9.88 million), The WB (3.57 million) and UPN (3.34 million).
The season-to-date competition in the advertiser-friendly demo is as tight as ever. Through the middle of last week, Fox was tops for the 2004-05 season in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.1, followed by CBS (4.0), ABC (3.7) and last season’s No.1 performer in the demo, NBC (3.6). The WB and UPN were tied for the season a 1.4 in adults 18 to 49.
ABC has shown the best growth over last season, increasing its performance in the demo by 12 percent. CBS is up by 3 percent in adults 18 to 49, while Fox is up by 2 percent. UPN is flat for the season, while The WB has declined 7 percent from 2003-04. NBC has made the most movement, dropping 16 percent in the demo in 2004-05.
In total viewers for the season, CBS is down 2 percent from last year to 12.84 million. ABC is up 11 percent to 10.08 million, while Fox has grown 3 percent to 9.98 million. NBC is down 10 percent to 9.85 million for its total viewer season-to-date average. Both of the weblets have total viewer averages of 3.35 million for the season, with The WB down 9 percent and UPN down 2 percent.
The first night of May sweeps, Thursday, April 28, was a challenge for almost all the networks due to a hastily called prime-time presidential news conference at 8 p.m. (ET). With help from a rescheduled “Survivor: Palau” at 9 p.m. and “CSI” at 10 p.m., CBS won that night in adults 18 to 49 with an 8.0 rating. That outperformed by 31 percent NBC’s 6.1 rating in the demo for the night, with “Apprentice” garnering a second-place finish at 9 p.m. (5.5) and “ER” scoring a 6.6 at 10 p.m.
On Friday, April 29, CBS was once again victorious in adults 18 to 49 thanks in part to the series finale of “JAG” at 9 p.m., which scored a season-high delivery of 2.9 in the demo. Although CBS won the night with a 2.8, ABC had the highest-rated show in the demo with “20/20” (3.6).
Fox, the only network to run original programming, won Saturday night, April 30, but Sunday, May 1, belonged to ABC. With its back-to-back episodes of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” ABC won the 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. hours in the demo, while 9 p.m.’s “Desperate Housewives” turned in its second-strongest performance to date in adults 18 to 49 with an 11.5. At 10 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy” had its highest-rated episode ever in the demo with an 8.2, giving ABC a 7.4 rating for the night, easily outpacing second-place Fox (4.5).
On Monday, May 2, CBS regained its ratings footing, with a special repeat episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” replacing “Listen Up” at 8:30 p.m. A 9 p.m. original “Raymond” scored a 6.3 in the demo, followed by “Two and a Half Men” (5.8) and the highest-rated show in adults 18 to 49 of the night, “CSI: Miami” (7.3). “Miami” took its toll on NBC’s midseason psychic drama “Medium,” which was down 13 percent from the previous week to a 4.7.
On Tuesday at 8 p.m. “American Idol,” despite an 8 percent drop from the previous week, propelled Fox to a nightly win in the demo with an 8.4. “Idol” scored a 9.9 in adults 18 to 49, while its lead-out “House” won the 9 p.m. hour with a 7.0. A non-competitor during the 9 p.m. hour for much of the season, NBC gained some traction with its two-hour crossover episode of “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” which garnered a 5.3 between 9 and 11 p.m.
Last Wednesday ABC was competitive in the demo with help from “Lost” (6.3) at 8 p.m., “Alias” at 9 p.m. (3.7) and the highly anticipated 10 p.m. “primetime>live” news special, “Fallen Idol,” which featured Corey Clark, the “American Idol” contestant who detailed his alleged relationship with “Idol” judge Paula Abdul. ABC averaged a 5.3 demo rating for the night, with “primetime>live” scoring a 6.1, beating out CBS’s “CSI: NY” (4.4) and NBC’s “Law & Order” (3.6).
But that wasn’t enough to beat Fox, which scored a 5.8 for the night in the demo, thanks to the “American Idol” results show at 9 p.m., which garnered a 10.8 in adults 18 to 49. Despite media hype, competition from the Corey Clark interview and CBS’s 8 p.m. Phil McGraw special featuring “Insider” host Pat O’Brien, recently released from rehab (2.0), “Idol” was the top-rated show for the night.