'Simpsons,' 'X-Files' put Net up 11% from last Nov.

HOLLYWOOD — Strong season premieres for “The Simpsons” and “The X-Files” powered Fox to a convincing victory among young adults on the first Sunday of November sweeps.

Net also received strong perfs from “King of the Hill” and “Malcolm in the Middle” in winning the night in adults 18-49 by 4 shares, according to prelim Nielsen nationals. Compared with the opening Sunday of November 1999, Fox was up 11% in viewers (to 14.2 million) and 9% better in young adults (to a 7.3/17).

It was also a good night for ABC, which won the night in total viewers thanks in part to a “Growing Pains” reunion pic, and NBC (which aired a “Saturday Night Live” spec) but a relatively weak one for CBS, whose “Jackie” mini bombed.

Fox’s big showing has enabled it to stay within about 10% of NBC for the week in adults 18-49. When Nielsen issues final results today for the week of Oct. 30-Nov. 5, the Peacock is projected to win its fourth straight week in the demo (5.6), followed by Fox (5.1), ABC (4.5) and CBS (3.4).

‘X-Files’ pusher

Highlighting Fox’s premiere Sunday was “The X-Files,” whose first seg featuring Robert Patrick ranked as the night’s top program in adults 18-49 (prelim 8.8/18). Although down in the demo vs. last season’s premiere (9.8/20), the episode was nevertheless the sci-fi skein’s best showing since last November.

“The Simpsons” achieved its highest ratings since Feb. 13 in adults 18-49 (prelim 8.5/19), topping “Growing Pains” by 5 shares, and also won its slot in viewers (prelim 16.3 million) with its largest audience since Feb. 27. Surrounding laffers “King of the Hill” (5.7/14) and “Malcolm in the Middle” (7.5/16) contributed their best 18-49 scores since March and January, respectively.

Fox could actually see week-to-week gains next week when its Sunday lineup follows one of the net’s strongest NFL matchups of the season (Rams-Giants).

The Alphabet web saw very strong numbers for its “Growing Pains” reunion movie, including the largest aud for a “Wonderful World of Disney” pic (prelim 15.1 million) since February and its best 18-49 rating (5.9/14) since November 1999. In each half-hour, pic was either first or second in both viewers and 18-49.

Although ABC couldn’t match its numbers for last November’s opening Sunday (which included “Annie” and the first night of a “Millionaire” marathon), it still delivered its best Sunday ratings of the season. Net won the night in viewers (prelim 17.0 million) and placed a solid second to Fox in 18-49 (5.8/13).

‘Millionaire’ losses

In a sign of the way things have changed over the course of six months, though, “Millionaire” was ABC’s lowest-rated of three programs on the night in adults 18-49 (prelim 4.9/10), behind “The Practice” (6.5/16) and the Disney movie (5.9/14). The quizzer, however, did draw the night’s biggest overall audience (prelim 19.1 million).

CBS tumbled to fourth in adults 18-49 (3.9/9) and third in viewers (13.5 million) despite a hefty NFL overrun (prelim 18.0 million, 6.0/16). Net’s “Touched by an Angel,” pushed back 30 minutes by football, delivered its lowest firstrun Sunday ratings to date (prelim 12.9m, 3.6/8 in A18-49).

That led into part one of mini “Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,” which became the lowest-rated sweeps multi-nighter of at least the past two seasons (10.9 million, 3.1/7). It lost audience and demo points with each half-hour, with its final primetime half-hour finishing 8 shares out of first in homes and 10 shares back in 18-49.

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” spec fared very well, despite losing steam throughout the night. It delivered the Peacock’s biggest ratings for entertainment programming in Sunday’s 9-11 p.m. block (prelim 16.4 million, 7.6/17 in A18-49) since last November (“Men in Black”), placing second in 18-49 to Fox from 9-10 p.m. and first from 10-11.

It was also the net’s best Sunday overall (excepting Golden Globes and Olympics) since last November and marked the fourth straight night to open the sweeps period that NBC has showed year-to-year gains in both total viewers and adults 18-49.

Not surprisingly, rookie drama “Ed” (prelim 10.7 million, 4.2/9 in A18-49) faded to worst-yet marks opposite the premieres of Fox’s comedies. A year ago, “Third Watch” drew 11.5 million viewers and a 4.7/10 in the demo.

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