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‘Sabrina’ conjures record Friday for WB

Climbs 44% ahead of last season's average

The season premiere of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” has conjured up the best Friday overnight ratings in the WB netlet’s history.

According to Nielsen, “Sabrina’s” first flight on the WB — following a four-season run on ABC — delivered a 3.9 rating and 7 share, the Frog net’s strongest delivery to date in the 8 p.m. half-hour. “Sabrina” climbed 44% ahead of the WB’s 1999-2000 season average in the slot (2.7).

The weblet also got solid numbers with the series debut of sitcom “Gross Pointe.” In overnights the soap opera spoof from Darren Star scored a 3.1 rating — good enough for the third-best timeslot result in the WB’s history.

At 9 p.m., sophomore high school drama “Popular” logged an OK 2.8 rating, slightly better than its Thursday debut a year ago (2.5) and about on par with the netlet’s Friday average in the hour last season.

“This is a great start for us on Friday nights, and I believe we’ll get stronger,” WB Entertainment prexy Susanne Daniels said. “To have the highest-rated comedy on the night our first week out confirms our belief that ‘Sabrina’ is still a very important show for families on Friday nights.”

Trouble on Friday?

In what’s perhaps a sign of the troubles ABC may expect on the night since dropping “Sabrina” and its entire “TGIF” lineup, the Alphabet web could muster only a 3.4 overnight rating with its 8-10 p.m. comedy block, a tick behind the WB’s combined average for “Sabrina” and “Gross Pointe” (3.5).

“Sabrina’s” 3.9 topped all comedies on the night — ABC’s double-dose of “Two Guys and a Girl” (3.6 for each) and “Norm” (3.4 for each) as well as a special 8:30 “Becker” on CBS (3.7).

Some comedy success on Fridays figures to help the WB in its attempt to launch a six-sitcom Sunday this fall. That lineup, which includes vet “Steve Harvey” at 8 and new entries “Hype” and “Nikki” from 9-10, bows Oct. 8.

Games still lag

The Sydney Olympics on NBC, meanwhile, continue to perform considerably lower than recent Summer Games.

Based on national results for Thursday and prelim ratings for Friday and Saturday, this year’s Olympics is averaging a 14.6/26 — down 18% from Seoul in 1988 (17.8/32), off 22% from Barcelona in 1992 (18.6/36) and down 35% from Atlanta in 1996 (22.3/42).

Thursday’s coverage from 7-11:37 p.m. averaged a 14.9/26 in homes, 22.97 million viewers and a 9.3 rating in adults 18-49. Its women 25-54 rating (11.4) was NBC’s second best mark since the Opening Ceremony.

Results in the 18-49 demo through Thursday — the last day for which numbers are available — put the Sydney Olympics 19% behind Seoul in adults 18-49 (9.0 vs. 11.1), 31% behind Barcelona (12.7) and 40% off the pace set in Atlanta through seven nights (14.8).

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