ABC sitcom steals night; NBC falls hard

Another strong showing for ABC’s “Ellen” led the network to a first-place finish Wednesday night, while NBC fell to third with its lowest-rated overall Wednesday on record for original series programming.

CBS placed second for the evening with part one of its “Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac” miniseries. For the night, ABC averaged a 10.2/17 in households, CBS averaged a 9.5/15, NBC a 7.4/12 and Fox a 7.0/12. The WB averaged a 3.4/6.

“Ellen,” which featured the Ellen Morgan character telling her parents she’s gay, posted a 12.7/20 in households and a 9.7/24 in adults 18-49, making it the top-rated program for the night in both categories. The show’s household ratings were 21% higher than its season average before last week’s “coming out” episode, and its adults 18-49 rating was 35% higher. “Ellen” also built on its “Drew Carey” lead-in of 11.6/18 for the first time this season.

3-D doesn’t do it

ABC’s 3-D stunting didn’t seem to boost “Grace Under Fire” and “Coach,” though. “Grace” finished third in the 8 p.m. timeslot with a 7.3/13 and was below the timeslot average for the season. “Coach” rated a 7.6/13, second in its timeslot, but was also below the season average for ABC’s Wednesday 8:30 p.m. slot.

Despite a guest appearance from Jerry Seinfeld, NBC ran two back-to-back episodes of “Newsradio” with poor results. “Newsradio” was fourth in both the 8 p.m. and 8:30 timeslots. At 8 p.m., “Newsradio” rated a 5.3/10, and at 8:30, it rated a 6.2/10. “Wings,” “Men Behaving Badly” and “Law & Order” all placed third and performed below the timeslots’ season averages.

‘Knots’ holds its own

The first part of “Knots Landing” miniseries rated a respectable 10.3/17, making it the network’s highest-rated CBS Wednesday Movie of the season. It was second in its timeslot in households, adults 19-49 and 25-54. CBS’s “The Nanny” won its 8 p.m. timeslot with an 8.5/15.

On Fox, “Beverly Hills, 90210″ rated a 9.0/16, beating both ABC and NBC for the hour, while “Pacific Palisades” rated a 5.0/8.

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