A flurry of CBS season finales aired to mixed ratings results during the second week of May sweeps, but industry eyes were on the one show that hasn’t yet wrapped: ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”
A backdoor pilot for “Grey’s”spinoff “Private Practice” was meshed with a traditional “Grey’s”episode on May 3. Though some critics were less than pleased with the results creatively, the innovative launch gave ABC some sweeps buzz during a month that has otherwise been relatively quiet. The show also ensured viewer awareness of the presumptive fall series. The two-hour episode rated slightly higher than “Grey’s”averaged in recent weeks with a 9.1 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Otherwise, Fox won the week in the demo, led by “American Idol”(9.3 on Tuesday and 10.8 for Wednesday), while CBS won among total viewers.
On Tuesday, the preliminary Nielsens reported that “Idol”lead-out “House”managed to tie the reality titan for the first time. Though the nationals shifted “Idol”into the lead due to Fox’s habit of running “Idol”a couple of minutes into the 9 p.m. hour, “House”still retained an unprecedented 96 percent of its lead-in.
Among season finales, some episodes sparked increased viewership, others fell flat, and almost all were on CBS. Oddly, shows with self-contained episodes tended to conclude stronger than serialized programs.
For example, the finales for “Cold Case”(3.2), “New Adventures of Old Christine”(2.8) and “The Unit”(3.1) each had their best numbers in a month or more. But “The Amazing Race”had its worst finale rating ever (3.3), and the finale of “Jericho”matched its season low (2.1).
NBC got some good news on Sunday with its two-hour prime-time special “Saturday Night Live in the ’90s”posting the network’s best performance in the time period in four months. Overall, however, NBC is down a steep 25 percent for the first two weeks of sweeps compared with the same period last year. The network’s slump seems to be impacting its breakout hit “Heroes,”which hit a season low on Monday (5.1).
The other networks had less dramatic swings versus last May, with Fox down 11 percent, ABC up 9 percent (the only major network to show growth this month), CBS down 16 percent, Univision up 7 percent and The CW up 8 percent compared with UPN, flat compared with The WB.