Twentieth triumphs

Fox's 'X,' ABC's 'Practice' score in sweeps week

Twentieth Century Fox TV wrapped a good week on Sunday as two of its dramas ranked as the night’s top programs among young adults.

The Fox network’s “The X-Files” and ABC’s “The Practice” each scored timeslot victories and led their nets to the top demo scores on the final Sunday of May sweeps. “Files” also drew its largest aud in nearly three months while “Practice” courted its second largest aud ever.

Both series are from Twentieth TV, which learned last week that it will have a total of 19 new and returning primetime series on the fall sked — the most of any supplier for the second straight season.

According to prelim Nielsens, Fox took the night in adults 18-49 (6.2/17), as laffers “King of the Hill,” “The Simpsons” and “Malcolm in the Middle” joined “Files” in producing demo victories. ABC finished a close second (6.0/16), followed by NBC (4.4/12) and CBS (3.8/10).

The Alphabet’s advantage over NBC enabled it to close the gap with the Peacock in their May battle for the adults 18-49 crown. Based on prelim results for the weekend, NBC leads the sweep (with three days to go) with a 5.5/16, followed by ABC (5.3/16), Fox (4.1/12) and CBS (3.4/10).

ABC’s first-place finish Sunday in total viewers (prelim 18.1 million) also allows it to keep its weekly winning streak intact. When Nielsen releases its averages for the week of May 15-21 today, ABC is expected to win its 21st straight week by roughly one-tenth of a ratings point in homes over NBC (9.7 to 9.6); in total viewers, that translates to a margin of about half a million.

In adults 18-49, NBC will win for the third straight frame, topping ABC by roughly a 6.0 to 5.0 score.

‘X’ marks best spot

Sunday’s “X-Files” averaged 15.1 million viewers (its largest crowd since Feb. 27) and a primetime-best 8.3/20 in adults 18-49, also its best since Feb. 27.

The sci-fi drama, whose season finale saw Agent Mulder abducted by aliens, topped ABC’s champions edition of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in adults 18-49 for the hour (prelim 8.3 vs. 8.0). If the numbers hold up when Nielsen makes them final today, it will mark the first time that “Files” has topped a regularly skedded seg of “Millionaire” in the demo.

“Millionaire” did see its usual second-half bounce, though, and topped “Files” in the final 30 minutes (8.7 to 8.4). “Millionaire’s” demo score is on par with its recent Sunday perfs, suggesting that its champions editions, which also air on the final two nights of sweeps, won’t come close to packing the same ratings wallop of the quizzer’s early-May celebrity editions.

‘Practice’ makes perfect

“The Practice,” a Twentieth co-production with David E. Kelley Prods., averaged 23.2 million viewers and an 8.2/21 in adults 18-49. In total viewers, it’s the Emmy-winning drama’s second best tally ever — behind only its post-Super Bowl outing (23.9 million).

NBC was competitive on the night with “Growing Up Brady” (prelim 6.2/16 in adults 18-49), which ranks as the highest-rated single-part telepic of the sweep. “Brady,” which finished 6 shares behind “Files” in its first hour and 4 shares behind “Practice” in its second hour, would tie with part one of “The ’70s” as NBC’s top-rated pic in the demo since November’s “Men in Black.”

The Peacock got off to a slow start on the night with the preem of “Beverly Hills Ninja” (5.9 million, 2.6/8 in A18-49). “Ninja” couldn’t keep up with another youth-oriented theatrical, ABC’s repeat of “The Mask” (11.0 million, 3.9/12).

In search of overrun

NBC could have used an NBA overrun on this night, as its Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks drew an 8.7/19 in overnights — NBC’s highest-rated playoff game of the season. Its final half-hour (6-6:30 p.m. EDT) produced an 11.8/24.

That followed a strong opener for the Western Conference finals on Saturday. Game one between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers scored a 6.2/15 in overnights, up from last year’s 5.9/15 for the San Antonio-Portland opener; it peaked with an 8.0 rating in the final half-hour.

CBS placed third in viewers Sunday, led by the largest auds for “60 Minutes” (prelim 15.5 million) and “Touched by an Angel” (17.1 million) in seven weeks. At 9, though, the net’s “Linda McCartney Story” drew the fewest viewers (prelim 9.7 million) for any Eye Sunday telepic this season.

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