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‘Will & Grace,’ ‘Blue’ keep race tight between ABC, NBC

Fierce battle joined for the May sweeps demo crown

“Will & Grace” and “NYPD Blue” wrapped their seasons as ratings winners Tuesday, but their respective nets continue to be locked in a fierce battle for the May sweeps demo crown.

NBC’s one-hour “Will” was the top-rated show of the night in adults 18-49 (8.5/21), helping the Peacock keep things close on the night with ABC. It was “Will’s” best Tuesday score since its season premiere last September.

The Alphabet won for the 20th time in the last 21 Tuesdays in the demo, although topping NBC by a mere 2 shares — the Peacock’s most competitive finish since December.

ABC’s “NYPD Blue” concluded its season with a two-hour episode that placed second to “Will” in adults 18-49 from 9-10 (6.4 vs. 8.5) but topped NBC’s “Dateline” by 4 shares in its final hour. “Blue’s” demo rating in the 10 p.m. hour (6.9/19) was its best since Feb. 22.

According to Nielsen, Tuesday’s results have enabled ABC to close within one-tenth of a ratings point of NBC with only Wednesday’s results to be counted (5.5 vs. 5.4).

Adults 18-49 sweeps averages through Tuesday (27 days): NBC, 5.5/16 (down 8% in rating vs. a year ago); ABC, 5.4/15 (up 17%); Fox, 4.1/12 (down 9%); CBS, 3.5/10 (down 5%).

In total viewers, it’s: ABC, 15.07 million (up 37%); NBC, 12.58 (down 11%); CBS, 11.96 (down 8%); Fox, 8.42 (down 14%).

‘Third,’ ‘JAG’ draw auds

Other Tuesday highlights included the best ratings since Feb. 22 for NBC’s “Third Rock From the Sun” (8.29 million, 3.8/11 in A18-49) and the largest aud for CBS’ “JAG” (13.24 million) since April 3.

Fox’s “Opening the Tombs of the Golden Mummies” uncovered only so-so ratings, leaving the net fourth for the night in young adults (3.6/10).

ABC won in total viewers for the 21st straight Tuesday (18.6 million), followed by CBS (13.0), NBC (11.7) and Fox (8.7).

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” was the night’s most-watched program, although it slipped to a season low in viewers (22.56 million) and adults 18-49 (6.6/20) for a one-hour Tuesday seg.

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