‘Angel’ righteous; ‘King’ royal

Good triumphed over evil for a change Sunday night in the 34-market Nielsen overnight ratings as CBS’s “Touched by an Angel” scored its highest overnight rating ever, while the ABC made-for-TV movie “Touched by Evil,” starring Paula Abdul, was a distant third in its time period.

Indeed, with “Touched by an Angel” (16.1 rating/22 share in the metered markets) and “The 23rd Annual People’s Choice Awards” (taking second behind “The X-Files” from 9 to 10 p.m. and winning at 10 p.m. with a 13.1/20 average, up 16% over ’96), CBS posted its highest-rated overnight performance of the season.

The news was also good for Fox. “The Simpsons,” with overnight numbers of 13.8/19, enjoyed its best rating and share in more than a year with an “X-Files” takeoff episode.

Additionally, the debut of the new animated comedy “King of the Hill” from “Beavis and Butt-head” creator Mike Judge and former “Simpsons” executive producer Greg Daniels came in at 13.1/18, the highest retention ever for a premiere after “The Simpsons” and the best overnight rating for a regularly scheduled program in the timeslot all season.

Those lead-ins lifted “X-Files’ ” to its best rating ever in the metered markets: 15.8, with a 22 share, its best in more than a year.

Predictably, early national figures obtained by Fox on Monday showed both “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” dropping significantly, to household figures of 11.8/17 and 11.7/17, respectively.

But Fox was strutting over how well “King” retained its “Simpsons” lead-in, particularly with the prime demo. The shows deadlocked with averages of 9.9/23 in adults 18 to 49, the first time a new show premiere has held 100% of that “Simpsons” demo.

If that retention holds in week two, Fox looks to have a companion hit on its hands.

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