ABC not feeling like a million sans game

'JAG,' 'That '70s Show' benefit from missing 'Millionaire'

ABC is starting to find out just how big “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” truly was this month, now that the hit gameshow has retired for the sweeps and is no longer lifting some of its Alphabet schedule-mates.

On Tuesday, for example, ABC’s “Dharma and Greg” dropped from last week’s season-high 8.2 rating, 21 share in adults 18-49, achieved with “Millionaire” as its lead-in, down to a regular-slot season-low 5.8/15 with no “Millionaire” help.

The absence of the hit gameshow also impacted ABC’s Tuesday leadoff hitter, “Spin City,” which enjoyed its two best outings this season as “Millionaire’s” lead-in, then plunged to season lows this week (10.76 million total viewers, 4.2/12 in adults 18-49).

All told, ABC’s 8-10 p.m. lineup declined by 32% in adults 18-49 (5.0/13 vs. 8.6/17) vs. the “Millionaire”-boosted results of the previous three Tuesdays.

ABC is expected to intro “Millionaire” as a regular on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays starting in January (Daily Variety, Nov. 30) and this week’s Tuesday results will probably erase any doubts regarding “Millionaire’s” importance to that schedule.

Benefiting most from “Millionaire’s” absence this week were CBS’ “JAG” (a series-record 18.32 million, 4.7/13 in adults 18-49) and Fox’s “That ’70s Show” (8.78 million, 4.8/13 in adults 18-49), which edged “JAG” to win the 8-9 p.m. in adults 18-49.

Things just got tougher for NBC’s “Just Shoot Me” (9.13 million, 4.0/11 in adults 18-49), which was fourth for that half-hour in adults 18-49.

CBS swept the night’s half-hours in homes, allowing the Eye net to move an eyelash ahead of NBC for second place in the November sweeps homes race with one night left to count (9.2/15 vs. 9.1/15). ABC (9.9/16) will easily win the month.

The Alphabet pulled out Tuesday in adults 18-49 thanks to a 10-11 p.m. Barbara Walters spec (14.32 million, 5.7/16 in adults 18-49).

UPN ran a wrestling special Tuesday from 8-9 p.m. (4.42 million, 1.6/4 in adults 18-49) and pinned down its best homes rating that hour since March 10, 1998.

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