'Homicide' does well in overtime, but will it score in regular play?

February 02, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Opening night was super for Barry Levinson's "Homicide." The new NBC series about homicide detectives in Baltimore racked up big ratings.

An estimated 48 million viewers nationally and about half a million in Baltimore watched the series premiere Sunday night after the Super Bowl, according to A. C. Nielsen. "Homicide" held about half the Super Bowl audience nationally and 81 percent locally, which is impressive by almost any yardstick.

But the real ratings test comes tomorrow when "Homicide" settles into its regular time slot at 9 p.m. on WMAR (Channel 2) and goes head-to-head with the hit series "Home Improvement" on ABC (WJZ, Channel 13) and "Melrose Place," a favorite among young viewers, on Fox (WBFF, Channel 45).

The Super Bowl itself was not as big a draw in Baltimore as it was in most major markets, according to overnight ratings from the 28 metered cities. Overall, the game earned a 43.9 rating and a 65 share, meaning that two out of every three TV sets in use were tuned to the game from 6:30 to 9:45 p.m.

In Baltimore, the game garnered a 40.1 rating and a 56 share, which is just slightly better than one out of every two sets being tuned to the game. The level of interest in Baltimore was fourth lowest among the top 28 cities. Only viewers in St. Louis, Charlotte and Boston showed less interest in the game. (St. Louis and Charlotte are competing with Baltimore to become NFL cities.) The game had the highest ratings and shares in Dallas, Los Angeles, Denver, San Antonio, Sacramento-Stockton and San Diego.

Not surprisingly, though, Baltimore was the city with the highest percentage of viewers watching "Homicide" when it started about 10:25 after a no-contest second-half of football and a tedious post-game show.

A quarter-hour-by-quarter-hour analysis of viewing in Baltimore, shows that the audience came early and stayed late to see "Homicide."

At 6:30 p.m., the local audience for kickoff of the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills measured a 40 rating and 62 share. At halftime, during the Michael Jackson show, it was a 39 rating and a 54 share. Even though, the second half was a blowout, the rating and share held. In fact, the last 15 minutes of the game, earned a 42.9 rating and 59 share. Even the post-game show managed to hold to a 34 rating and 53 share.

While the last 15 minutes of the post-game show earned a 34.4 rating and 53 share, that number went up to a 34.8 rating and 53 share in Baltimore for the first 15 minutes of "Homicide." The show held its share of the audience through the hour. Outside of Baltimore, "Homicide" did best in Washington and Chicago.

Complete and precise ratings will not be available until later in the week when national audience measurement are completed by Nielsen.

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