An era has passed, but as Sundays will always be the natural spot for awards shows, Fridays should never refuse a Barbara Walters special. And that’s what ABC rolled out last night with a full court press retrospective via the 2-hour Barbara Walters: Her Story (1.6/7) special. Coming the same day as Walters’ last stint as on-air den mother on The View, as my colleague Lisa de Moraes likes to say, the look back at her career over the decades saw the TV pioneer interviewing Presidents, the famous, the infamous and the too trainwrecky to look away. And a lot of people were looking on Friday. Even with last week’s 20/20, and down a scant 5% from Walters’ quickly pulled together showstopper of an interview with Donald Sterling’s confidante V. Stiviano on May 2, last night’s special was tied with lead-in Shark Tank (1.6/7) for the far away highest-rated show of the night and pulled in 9.30 million viewers to make it the most watched show of the night by a landslide. Needless to say, ABC cleaned up the night with a 1.6/6 among Adults 18-49 overall and 8.380 million total viewers.
Related: Highlights From Barbara Walters’ Last Day As On-Air Den Mom On ‘The View’: Video
And if Babs has a legacy hold on Fridays, Shark Tank is building one of its own. Wrapping up its fifth and most successful season last night – and of course back for more next year – the entrepreneurial reality series was down 16% from last week which itself was down from the series high of the week before. Of course, that’s not quite apples to apples, as ST shifted from its regular 9 PM slot to 8 PM last night for the Babs special. In the big picture, last night’s finale was down 15% from the 1.9/7 it drew for its 9 PM Season 4 ender on May 17, 2013. On the viewership side, last year’s finale had an audience of 6.68 million viewers in contrast to the lead-in to Ms. Walters’ special last night which had a steady 6.49 million. Even with the finale-to-finale stumble and a move from its regular 9 PM slot to 8 PM last night, the Sharks have been biting this season. For one thing, last night’s 1.6 was the best result ABC has had in that 8 -9 PM Friday slot since November 9, 2012. On average, the series has seen 14% growth in the key demo over the last cycle and 16% growth in total viewers.
On The CW, the 8 PM original Whose Line Is It Anyway? (0.6/3) was up 20% from its May 9 show week. The now renewed Hart Of Dixie (0.4/2) ended its third season with a lot of love in the air, to put it mildly. It also saw a 33% rise from last week after its May 9th show shot up 49% from its series low of May 2. Season end to season end, the drama was down 19% with its Season 2 finale on Tuesday May 7 last year.
Having had all its Friday regulars end their latest seasons last week, CBS was all encores last night. Fox was half repeats and getting as much of their money’s worth out of Jack Bauer as possible with a re-broadcast of Monday’s 24: Live Another Day. Otherwise it was finale time with the Season 6 end of Kitchen Nightmares (0.9/3). Up 13% from its last show on May 2, the 9 PM airing of Gordon Ramsay’s efforts to save flailing joints tumbled 24% from its last finale on May 10, 2013 in the 8 PM slot. Maybe it was all that Walters competition as last night’s stab at saving the troubled Bella Luna Italian restaurant in Easton, PA was also down 18% from KN’s season opener 9 PM slot on April 11.
NBC’s regular Friday night line-up stayed intact last night with Dateline (1.3/6) kicking things off and then the Season 3 finale of Grimm (1.3/5). Now, the network was pre-empted in the San Fran market due to a Major League Baseball game with their Giants, so expect adjustments overall in their ratings results in the final numbers. Noting that, Dateline rose 8% from its May 9 show while the wedding-themed Grimm was even with last week, which was even with the week before that. Finale-to-finale, Grimm took a fall of 24% from its 10 PM Season 2 ender on a May 21 last year. Full context, that finale was on right after The Voice on a Tuesday, facing a NCIS repeat and Hour 2 of the Dancing With The Stars finale, AKA very very different than last night. Last night’s lead-out Hannibal (0.9/3) saw its Season 2 penultimate episode confidently gain a 29% rise from last week.