Fox climbs back in sweeps

Auds are zipping back to Beverly Hills as one of their longtime Fox favorites wraps its 10-season run.

Wednesday’s penultimate episode of “Beverly Hills, 90210” delivered the show’s largest aud in six months (9.25 million) and its best women 18-49 score (7.4/16) in nearly 16 months, according to Nielsen. That was followed by a one-hour behind-the-scenes special that registered the net’s best women 18-34 ratings for a spec (11.9/29) in nearly 2½ years.

Fox placed a close second on the night to ABC in adults 18-49 (5.6 vs. 5.5), while ABC topped NBC in viewers by about 2.5 million.

Wednesday’s numbers, on the heels of a solid showing for Tuesday’s “Child Geniuses” spec, have allowed Fox to creep back into the May sweeps battle as the four-week ratings period hits the halfway mark.

Through 14 days, Fox is third in adults 18-49 but has moved into second in its target demo of adults 18-34. In the younger demo, ABC leads with a 4.7/15 followed by Fox (4.5/15) and NBC (4.3/14).

ABC remains well ahead of the pack among total viewers but still hasn’t put away NBC in the key battle for adults 18-49. The Peacock will likely close the gap with Thursday’s and Friday’s results.

Leading all categories

In other categories, ABC also leads the pack at the halfway point in adults 25-54 (6.5), teens (4.1) and kids (3.6).

Adults 18-49 sweeps averages through Wednesday: ABC, a 5.8 rating/17 share (up 35% in rating vs. a year ago); NBC, 5.0/15 (down 17%); Fox, 4.0/12 (down 9%); CBS, 3.3/9 (down 11%); UPN, 1.7/5 (up 42%); and the WB, 1.5/4 (down 12%).

In total viewers, it’s ABC, 16.06 million (up 55%); NBC, 11.80 million (down 18%); CBS, 11.36 million (down 11%); Fox, 8.26 million (down 10%); UPN, 4.02 million (up 25%); and the WB, 3.44 million (down 24%).

“90210” (9.25 million viewers, 5.4/16 in adults 18-49) placed a solid second to a special “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (22.55 million, 6.2/18) and easily topped the quizzer in adults 18-34 (8.0/24 vs. 4.3/14). It was “90210’s” best perfs in adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 since March 10, 1999.

Strong combo

The combination of “90210” and the WB’s “Dawson’s Creek” sapped much of the young female aud of “Millionaire.” The quizzer hit a season-low 14 share in women 18-34.

“Dawson’s” topped its stiff competish in female teens (6.9/25) and placed second to “90210” in females 12-34. The drama also posted its highest marks in women 18-34 (4.3), women 18-49 (2.8) and adults 18-49 (2.2) since last October.

The 9 p.m. special “Beverly Hills, 90210: The Final Goodbye” (9.68 million, 5.7/14 in A18-49) placed second in adults 18-49 to ABC comedies “Drew Carey” (6.2) and “Spin City” (5.9) and was a dominant first in women 18-34 (11.9/29). The last Fox spec to rank higher among women 18-34 was “Breaking the Magician’s Code” on Nov. 24, 1997.

NBC’s “Law & Order” (18.64 million, 7.0/20 in A18-49) was the night’s top-rated show in adults 18-49 and drew its largest aud since March 22.

CBS placed fourth on the night in both viewers and demos, as its “Charlie Brown” spec (6.55 million, 2.3/7 in A18-49) struggled to find an aud opposite “90210” and “Millionaire.”

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