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Strong start for ‘Damon’

Wayans not yet 'King,' hoops a slam dunk for CBS

The premiere of “Damon,” Fox’s new Damon Wayans-David Alan Grier sitcom, hasn’t quite matched the hit numbers of slot regular “King of the Hill,” but is otherwise one of the best-performing post-“Simpsons” series ever.

Meanwhile, overnight Nielsens for last weekend’s dramatic NCAA basketball tournament matchups indicate CBS is earning its best tourney numbers in four years.

According to preliminary nationals for Sunday night, Fox’s “Damon” scored an 8.4 rating, 13 share in homes and a 6.9 rating in adults 18-49, retaining 94% of its households lead-in and 95% of its 18-49 lead-in.

“King of the Hill” has averaged 104% and 109% retention rates, respectively, this season. Of the 18 series to premiere in a post-“Simpsons” timeslot to date, only “King” (100%), “The Critic” (96%) and “Martin” (95%) have matched “Damon’s” 18-49 retention with their first episodes. The average retention of those 18 debuts has been 83%.

“Damon” finished fourth for its 8:30-9 half-hour in homes, but was a close second in adults 18-49 to ABC’s “Little Rascals” (9.2/15 in homes for its full two hours) in a race so tight, final numbers might reverse that finishing order.

At CBS, overnight averages have put the Eye’s NCAA tournament coverage at an average 6.2/13 through Sunday, up from last year’s 6.1/14 to make it CBS’ best average at this point since 1994’s 6.6/15. The top-rated game over the weekend was Kentucky-Duke (with a 9.9), the highest-rated regional-finals matchup since 1994.

Sunday’s basketball overrun has rendered CBS’ prelim numbers for that night highly unreliable, but CBS still looks like a big Sunday winner with the net debut of “It Could Happen to You.” The Nicolas Cage-Bridget Fonda pic apparently won out over all 9-11 p.m. competition in homes and adults 18-49.

– (Associated Press also contributed to this article.)

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