'Cinderella,' Winfrey pic dominate; 'X' strong

ABC’s double-whammy of “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” and “Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings” far exceeded expectations Sunday night and gave ABC its highest night of regular programming in seven years on what was the most competitive night of the November sweeps to date, according to preliminary nationals.

Fox’s premiere of “The X-Files” also drew that show’s highest rating ever in the key adults 18-49 demo and its second-highest household rating behind its post-Super Bowl episode last January.

Despite heavy promotion, part one of NBC’s miniseries “House of Frankenstein” fared poorly, scoring NBC’s lowest rating for part one of a Sunday-starting miniseries since May 1994. CBS was about on par with its season average for the night.

Final Nielsen nationals won’t be available until today, but fast nationals released by the networks showed that ABC placed first for the entire night with an 18.9/27 in homes and a 12.2/26 in young adults. CBS was second in homes (13.4/20) and fourth in young adults (4.8/10). Fox was third in homes (12.2/17) and second in young adults (10.8/22). NBC was fourth in homes (7.3/10) and third in young adults (5.4/11).

ABC’s win was fueled by an impressive 18.8 rating and 28 share for “The Wonderful World of Disney” with the Brandy starrer “Cinderella.” If the number holds up today, it will be ABC’s highest performance in the Sunday 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. timeslot in 13 years.

“Cinderella” was five share points higher than the broadcast premiere of “The Lion King” last year. In adults 18-49, “Cinderella” rated a 13.1/28, the best for a made-for (excluding miniseries) in nearly five years. In that demo, the movie was a full 10 share points above the performance of “Toy Story” in the same slot at the start of this season.

“Cinderella” easily won its timeslot in households, young adults and kids — a demo that drew more than a 50 share. ABC’s 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. movie with Oprah Winfrey also scored well, drawing a 19.0/28 in homes and an 11.2/23 in adults 18-49. It was ABC’s highest Sunday movie rating in homes in four years, and it won its household timeslot every half-hour.

In the key young adults demo, though, Fox’s “The X-Files” outperformed “Before Women Had Wings” from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. and was the highest-rated program for the night in that category. “The X-Files” was first in its timeslot among adults 18-49 (15.8/31) and second in homes (16.2/22).

Last year’s season premiere, which fell on the less competitive but generally lower-rated Friday night, was a 13.2/23 in homes and an 11.5/34 in young adults. The post-Super Bowl episode of “The X-Files” rated a 17.2/31 in homes and a 15.3/39 in young adults.

Leading into “The X-Files” at 8: 30 p.m., Fox’s “King of the Hill” scored its highest 18-49 rating ever (10.4/20), placing second in its timeslot in that demo. In homes, “King” (11.5/16) was third and was defeated by the second half of CBS’ “Touched by An Angel” (15.8/22).

‘Jenny,’ ‘Men’ fare badly

NBC had the sob story of the night. From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., “Men Behaving Badly” (5.1/7 homes and 3.3/7 adults 18-49) and “Jenny” (5.1/7 and 3.3/7) faced bleak-looking seven shares in households and young adults, which was about half the shares of their nearest third-place competitors.

NBC’s much-hyped miniseries “House of Frankenstein 1997, Part 1″ rated a fourth-place 8.7/13 in homes and a third-place 7.4/15 in young adults. “House” was 11 young-adults share points behind its last November sweeps mini, “Pandora’s Clock.”

CBS was 3% above its Sunday season average in homes, but 14% below its young-adults season average, due mainly to older demos for its movie “Murder She Wrote: South By Southwest.”

“Murder” was second in homes (13.0/19) from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. (although it placed third from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. behind “Wings” and “The X-Files”). The movie placed last in young adults with a 4.1, down from its 5.5 season average in that demo.

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