ABC gets better with ‘Practice’

Alphabet's Temple biopic outdraws Eye's Monroe mini

The season finale of “The Practice” powered ABC to an easy victory Sunday in total viewers while Fox walked away with demo victories, as all five of its shows won their timeslots.

Penultimate Sunday of the season also saw ABC’s Shirley Temple biopic outdraw CBS’ highly promoted Marilyn Monroe mini, although neither did much business in general on another lackluster Sunday for the broadcast nets. In fact, with only Fox showing year-to-year gains, the Big Four’s combined adults 18-49 share (prelim 51) was down sharply from the same night a year ago (61 share).

According to prelim nationals from Nielsen, ABC won the night in total viewers with its largest Sunday aud (15.8 million) since the Academy Awards on March 25 and placed second to Fox in adults 18-49 (5.8/17 vs. 4.9/14).

Each of Fox’s comedies delivered year-to-year gains in viewers and all demos, including an amazing 22% build in adults 18-49 for “The Simpsons” (prelim 7.1/22 vs. 5.8/18). Toon vet won its half-hour by 20 shares in adults 18-34, by 11 shares in 18-49 and by 5 shares in 25-54.

Part one of the “X-Files” season finale was down slightly vs. a year ago in key demos but — unlike last year when it placed third for its hour in 18-49 (7.0/17) — it won the time period by a commanding 5 shares (prelim 6.7/17).

The Practice” (prelim 20.6m, 8.1/21 in adults 18-49) ended its season with a bang, dominating its hour and virtually matching the demo score of last year’s finale (8.2/21) when lead-in “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” was much stronger. It was also the night’s most-watched program.

“Wonderful World of Disney” pic “Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story” won its 7-9 p.m. block in total viewers (prelim 12.4 million) with the franchise’s best showing in eight weeks, and also placed a solid second in adults 18-49 (prelim 3.3/11). “Millionaire” pitched in with a timeslot victory in viewers (prelim 17.7m) and a second-place finish in 18-49 (4.8/12).

CBS was a distant second on the night in viewers (prelim 11.6 million) and fourth in demos, grabbing sluggish numbers for the opening night of the well-reviewed “Blonde” (prelim 11.5m, 3.6/9 in A18-49). Net’s “60 Minutes” (prelim 11.6m) and “Touched by an Angel” (prelim 11.6m) also drew their smallest crowds for firstrun episodes this season.

One encouraging note for CBS is that “Blonde” gained among young adults with each half-hour, perhaps boding better for its Wednesday conclusion.

NBC placed third on the night in 18-49 (projected 3.9/11) with NBA playoff action and a “Saturday Night Live” Mother’s Day spec (prelim 4.7/12).

The Peacock net remains the leader through 18 nights of the May sweeps with an estimated 4.7 rating in adults 18-49, followed by CBS (4.2), Fox (4.1) and ABC (3.8). CBS leads in total viewers (13.2 million), comfortably ahead of second-place NBC (11.4m).

Same leaders also will win out for the week of May 7-13, with NBC expected to prevail in the demo with a 4.6 rating to runner-up Fox’s 4.1. CBS will win in total viewers (about 12.1 million), with ABC and NBC in a close finish for second (about 11.2m each).

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