NEW YORK — Preliminary audience estimates for Sunday night's marathon Emmy Award telecast showed Monday that while the Fox Broadcasting event was a distant third in the ratings, it still beat ABC.
According to A. C. Nielsen Co. overnight estimates from 15 cities, the four-hour Emmy show averaged a 10.7 rating when it was in direct 8-11 p.m. competition with programs on CBS, NBC and ABC.
The ratings, provided by Fox researchers, showed that CBS won the night with a 17.7 average in the 15 cities, followed by NBC, whose programs averaged a 16.8. ABC was fourth with an 8.8 average.
National ratings for the Emmy telecast--Sunday marked the first time none of the three major networks has aired it--won't be available until today, network research officials said Monday.
"We're pleased, absolutely," Fox spokesman Brad Turell said of the Emmy ratings. The 15-city average was "just about what we'd thought it get."
In Los Angeles, the program averaged a 16.5 rating and got an estimated 26% share of the audience when in direct competition with network fare, Turell said. Locally, the program ranked second, behind KNBC Channel 4.
CBS had aired a "Murder, She Wrote" rerun and a movie, "Micki & Maude." NBC aired "Family Ties," a new sitcom called "My Two Dads" and a TV movie, "The Highwayman." ABC's fare was a "Spenser: For Hire" rerun and the movie "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."
Despite Fox's pleasure at the showing, it is likely that national ratings for the 39th annual salute to nighttime network television will be the lowest in the program's history.
Part of the reason is that unlike CBS, NBC and ABC--each of which has more than 200 affiliates--Fox only had 161 stations airing Sunday's Emmy show, although the Los Angeles-based company said that those stations collectively encompassed 95% of the U.S. viewing audience.
Before Sunday's telecast, Turell said, Fox had projected that the Emmy show would average about a 12 rating nationally. But CBS research chief David Poltrak on Monday predicted a far lower rating when the national returns come in: "We're projecting that the (Emmy) show will have about an 8 or 9 rating."
Each ratings point this season represents 886,000 homes.
The lowest rating the Emmy telecast has gotten in the past decade was a 17.1, recorded in 1984.