Out ‘Ellen’ gives ABC rating rout

ABC’s coming out of the closet episode of “Ellen” did better than even the most optimistic projections at the Alphabet web, posting a 23.4 rating and 35 share in households and winning big in key demographics, according to Nielsen.

The 9-10 p.m. star-studded show gave ABC its best Wednesday entertainment numbers in three years in both households and adults 18-49.

ABC and industry execs were anticipating the show posting between a 25 and 30 share and execs at the web were ecstatic with the numbers. It was also the best “Ellen” has ever done; its average leading into Wednesday’s broadcast was a 9.6/16.

Creativity “embraced”

“Obviously we’re extremely pleased with Wednesday night’s stellar performance,” said ABC Entertainment president Jamie Tarses. “What’s even more satisfying is knowing that American viewers embraced the show’s creativity.

“Ellen and her team, who to their credit endeavored to take on such weighty subject matter, did so with skill, class and an incredible sense of humor.”

Among adults 18-49, ABC averaged a 19.3/43 during the 9-10 p.m. hour. More than 42 million viewers tuned in — 164% higher than its season average.

“Ellen” lifted the web to a 17.0/27 for the night. “Primetime Live,” which featured interviews with Ellen DeGeneres and her parents, posted a 16.8 rating and 28 share, its best numbers since the show interviewed Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley in 1995.

ABC still has not decided whether to renew “Ellen” for next season. The show’s ratings will likely have a heavy dropoff next week, but could easily still be higher than the season average. Next week, Ellen continues her mission by disclosing her sexuality to her parents.

The show is in its fourth year and reruns have already been sold to Lifetime Television, a sister company to ABC and Disney’s Touchstone Television, which produces “Ellen.”

The rest of the television competition ran for cover Wednesday night. NBC finished second with a rebroadcast of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” averaging a 7.7/12 and “Law and Order” finishing with a 9.7/16.

‘Pacific’ plunge

CBS finished with a 7.9/13 and Fox hit a 5.9/10. Unfortunately for Fox, the arrival of Joan Collins to “Pacific Palisades” was opposite “Ellen” and averaged only a 4.1/6, its lowest rating since launching and the worst-ever numbers for Fox in the 9-10 p.m. slot.

The appearance Wednesday of Ellen Degeneres and her girlfriend-actress Anne Heche on King World’s daytime talker “Oprah” generated ratings almost on par with the talker’s other top episodes this season. “Oprah” averaged a weighted 11.0/29 in overnight markets, compared to Barbra Streisand’s 12.3/29 appearance Nov. 11 and Madonna’s 11.6/30 on December 13. Winfrey appeared in “Ellen’s” coming out episode as her shrink.

**contributor:Jenny Hontz

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