CBS
 has hung on stubbornly, even as the sitcom has died before the few remaining members of the viewing audience still watching.
    Bette is now the second- lowest-rated regularly scheduled primetime program on the four big networks.

 

 


Forgotten 'Bette?'
So have viewers.

Once-hyped show is eating ratings sawdust

By Kevin Downey

  
Hereís a little reality check for CBS, lest the collective ego of its top brass gets too bloated on the ratings boost itís getting from "Survivor" and "CSI."
    Reality, thy name is "Bette."
    While media pundits cheered the Bette Midler sitcom before it hit the air and while CBS touted it as the next big thing, grand expectations faded quickly into outright embarrassment.
    Itís not as if CBS stood alone last fall when it pinned its primetime schedule on a big name star, though. Fox did it with John Goodman and NBC did it with Michael Richards of "Seinfeld."
    But while those two networks wielded the cancellation sword without so much as a grimace, CBS has hung on stubbornly to "Bette," even as the sitcom has died before the few remaining members of the viewing audience still watching.
    "Bette" is now the second-lowest-rated regularly scheduled primetime program on the four big networks.
    Itís the second lowest in viewers and itís second lowest among the advertiser-coveted adult 18-49 demographic. To put things into perspective, "Bette" ranks No. 90 and its rating is even lower than CBSís geriatric-skewed "Diagnosis Murder."
    If the nonstop promotional blitz for "Survivor" is any indication, CBS is not fretting the "Bette" bomb too much. But it should be.
    After all, "Survivor" is going away soon, it wonít be back in the summer, and it may or may not be ready for a third installment by next fall.
    To its credit, CBSís pairing of "Survivor: The Australian Outback" and "CSI" on Thursday has boosted the networkís adult 18-49 rating by 5 percent this season. Its rating in the first 11 days of the February sweeps, which is when local network affiliates figure out advertising rates, is up 17 percent.
    While those increases are good and all, thereís a bit more to it.
    CBS still ranks a distant No. 4 among the networks in the demo for the season, for the sweeps, and even for last week.
    Thatís not due to the dismal ratings of "Bette" alone. The show has a lot of company in other under-performing shows in the 18-49 demo on CBSís primetime schedule.
    The network, in fact, only has four shows in the top-25 but fills up much of the list of lowest rated shows. Among them is "Diagnosis Murder," "The Fugitive," which is ranked No. 74, "60 Minutes II," "Touched by an Angel," "JAG," and the relatively strong "The District," which is ranked No. 54 out of all prime-time shows.
    The weak performers on CBSís schedule have held down its ratings. The network had a 4.2 adult 18-49 rating last week, has a 4.0 for the season so far, and has a 4.2 for the February sweeps.
    CBS did win last week in household ratings with a 9.2 and 15 share and has an 8.6/14 for the season.
   CBS still lags behind ABC in household ratings for the season by a slim margin. ABC has an 8.7/14 and had an 8.6/14 last week.
   ABC came in third in adults 18-49 with a 4.7, it has a 4.7 as well for the season, and a 4.4 for the sweeps, which is down 21 compared to last year.
    The network has employed some of the more traditional sweeps stunts this year. Notably, its rock and roll version of "Millionaire" improved the game showís Sunday audience by 22 percent to 23.1 million.
    "The Practice," which followed the game show, did a cast crossover with Foxís "Boston Public" and boosted its audience by 23 percent.
    NBC is in third place in household ratings for the season with an 8.3/13 but tied ABC last week with an 8.6/14.
    The network still ranks No. 1 in adults 18-49, though. It had a 5.4 last week, has a 5.0 for the season, and has a 5.9 for the sweeps, which is flat compared to last year.
    CBSís "Survivor" took a bigger lead over NBCís "Friends," which ranked No. 3 in adults 18-49 last week. The 9:00 p.m. hour of "Will & Grace" and "Just Shoot Me" ranked Nos. 4 and 5.
    The network faired poorly with sports, though. Itís NBA All-Star game was one of the lowest rated in 14 years and its Saturday night XFL game lost 58 percent of its audience in its second week and 60 percent of its adult 18-49 rating.
    Fox is still improving this season. Its 6.4 household rating and 10 share is up nearly 5 percent compared to last year. Last week it had a 6.7/11.
    Among adults 18-49, Fox ranked No. 2 last week with a 5.3, itís up 7 percent to a 4.6 for the season, and is up 11 percent for the sweeps to a 5.1.
    The WB and UPN, meanwhile, are both down 3.7 percent to a 2.6/4 in households for the season. The WB had a 2.6/4 last week to UPNís 2.4/4.
    In adults 18-49, The WB won last week with a 1.7 to UPNís 1.5, the two networks are tied at a 1.7 for the season, and The WB is up 7 percent for the sweeps to a 1.6 while UPN is down 11 percent to the same rating.

PRIMETIME AVERAGES BY NETWORK
RANKED ON HOUSEHOLDS
Week Ending Feb.
11


 

HOUSEHOLDS

PERSONS 2+

ADULTS 18-49

 

Rtg
%

(000)

SHR

Rtg
%

(000)

SHR

Rtg
%

(000)

SHR

CBS

9.2

9430

15

5.2

13520

13

4.2

5230

11

ABC

8.6

8770

14

5.1

13230

13

4.7

5900

12

NBC

8.6

8760

14

4.8

12630

12

5.4

6700

14

FOX

6.7

6880

11

4.1

10680

10

5.3

6570

13

WB

2.6

2640

4

1.5

3910

4

1.7

2090

4

UPN

2.4

2450

4

1.4

3640

3

1.5

1880

4

PAX

1

990

2

0.5

1400

1

0.4

540

1

Source: Nielsen Media Research


 

SEASON-TO-DATE 
 PRIMETIME AVERAGES BY NETWORK
RANKED ON HOUSEHOLDS
Oct. 2, 2000 through Feb. 11, 2001


 

HOUSEHOLDS

PERSONS 2+

ADULTS 18-49

 

Rtg
%

(000)

SHR

Rtg
%

(000)

SHR

Rtg
%

(000)

SHR

ABC

8.7

8870

14

5

13080

13

4.7

5840

12

CBS

8.6

8740

14

4.8

12520

12

4

4930

10

NBC

8.3

8480

13

4.7

12200

12

5

6230

13

FOX

6.4

6520

10

3.8

9980

9

4.6

5680

12

WB

2.6

2710

4

1.5

3960

4

1.7

2120

4

UPN

2.6

2640

4

1.5

3960

4

1.7

2090

4

PAX

0.9

950

1

0.5

1340

1

0.4

450

1

Source: Nielsen Media Research


 

NETWORK TV
RANKED ON HOUSEHOLDS
Week Ending Feb. 11


 

 

 

HOUSEHOLDS

PERSONS 2+

#

PROGRAMS

Net

Rtg%

Shr

(000)

#

Rtg%

(000)

1

E.R.

NBC

19

31

19429

2

10.8

28204

2

SURVIVOR II

CBS

17.4

26

17821

1

11.1

29042

3

PRACTICE, THE

ABC

14.6

23

14870

3

8.8

23081

4

MILLIONAIRE- SUN

ABC

14.3

21

14580

3

8.8

23130

5

FRIENDS

NBC

13.9

21

14207

5

8.6

22395

6

CSI

CBS

13.8

20

14078

6

8.2

21448

7

MILLIONAIRE- WED

ABC

13.7

22

14021

8

7.9

20569

8

LAW AND ORDER

NBC

13.5

22

13756

9

7.4

19305

9

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND

CBS

13.4

19

13696

7

8.1

21131

10

60 MINUTES

CBS

13

21

13241

12

7

18439

11

WEST WING

NBC

12.2

18

12512

12

7

18196

12

BECKER

CBS

11.9

17

12127

12

7

18372

12

WILL & GRACE

NBC

11.9

17

12196

10

7.3

19207

14

MILLIONAIRE- THU

ABC

11.7

17

11943

16

6.5

17043

15

JUST SHOOT ME

NBC

11.3

17

11515

15

6.8

17736

15

SNL PRIMETIME EXTRA II(S)

NBC

11.3

17

11535

11

7.1

18519

17

TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL

CBS

11.2

16

11410

19

6

15820

18

TEMPTATION ISLAND

FOX

11.1

16

11293

16

6.5

16991

19

DATELINE FRI

NBC

10.8

18

11021

19

6

15731

19

JUDGING AMY

CBS

10.8

18

11044

27

5.6

14703

19

MILLIONAIRE- FRI

ABC

10.8

18

11007

18

6.1

16079

22

JAG

CBS

10.6

17

10881

22

5.9

15392

23

LAW AND ORDER:SVU

NBC

10.4

18

10601

24

5.7

14905

24

PROVIDENCE

NBC

10.1

18

10342

24

5.7

15026

25

FRASIER

NBC

9.9

15

10074

30

5.4

14235

Source: Nielsen Media Research


 

CABLE TV
RANKED ON HOUSEHOLDS
Week Ending Feb. 4


BASIC CABLE

 

 

Household

Household

Persons 2+

#

PROGRAM NAME

(000)

US Rating %

(000)

1

MOVIE, USA ORIGINAL EVENT (ATTILA (PARTI)

4898

4.8

6.1

2

WWF ENTERTAINMENT

4593

4.5

5.8

3

MOVIE, USA ORIGINAL EVENT (ATTILA (PARTI)

4488

4.4

5.6

4

WWF ENTERTAINMENT

3978

3.9

5

5

FEW GOOD MEN, A(S)-02/04/2001

3780

3.7

4.6

6

SUNDAY MOVIE II (DEADLY MATRIMONY (PARTII)

2765

2.7

3.5

7

RUGRATS

2721

2.7

3.4

8

SUNDAY MOVIE I (DEADLY MATRIMONY (PARTI)

2643

2.6

3.3

9

RUGRATS

2634

2.6

3.3

10

RUGRATS

2595

2.5

3.2

11

RUGRATS

2574

2.5

3.2

12

MOVIE, USA (THE JACKAL)

2547

2.5

3.2

13

SPONGEBOB

2531

2.5

3.2

14

SUNDAY MOVIE (DEADLY FAMILY SECRETS)

2499

2.4

3.2

15

SPONGEBOB

2487

2.4

3.1

PAY CABLE

 

 

Household

Household

Persons 2+

#

PROGRAM NAME

(000)

US Rating%

(000)

1

SOPRANOS, THE

2586

2.5

7.7

2

OZ(S)-02/04/2001

2291

2.2

6.9

3

SOPRANOS, THE

1889

1.8

5.7

4

ANGELS DANCE

1792

1.8

5.4

5

DENNIS MILLER LIVE(S)-02/02/2001

1747

1.7

5.2

*Coverage area ratings are within each cable network's universe.
*Total U.S. ratings and household projections are based on 100.8 million TV homes.
*For inclusion in the rankings, telecasts must be promoted as distinct programs and must be of 5 minutes minimum duration.
Source: Nielsen Media Research

 

SYNDICATION
RANKED ON HOUSEHOLDS
Week Ending Jan. 28


 

 

Household

Household

#

PROGRAM NAME

US Rating %

(000)

1

WHEEL OF FORTUNE

11.2

11415

2

JEOPARDY

9

9150

3

JUDGE JUDY (AT)

6.5

6623

4

ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT

6.4

6511

5

OPRAH WINFREY SHOW (AT)

6.1

6212

6

FRIENDS-SYN (AT)

6

6183

7

SEINFELD

5.5

5580

8

FRASIER-SYN (AT)

5

5130

9

WHEEL OF FORTUNE WKND

4.8

4886

10

JUDGE JOE BROWN (AT)

3.9

4027

10

LIVE! WITH REGIS

3.9

3937

Source: Nielsen Media Research


 


-Kevin Downey is a staff writer for Media Life.


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