Brady, football, 'Millionaire' propels Alphabet Web

HOLLYWOOD — More fun and games helped ABC to one of its strongest weeks in months, as the premiere of Wayne Brady’s variety show, the return of Monday night football action and four doses of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” put the net atop the charts in total viewers.

Meanwhile, even with a lineup that didn’t strike quite as much fear in its opponents, NBC remained in control for a 17th straight week in the key demo of adults 18-49, according to Nielsen. Net aired only one episode of “Fear Factor” during the week — a highlights hour — but still edged out ABC for the week’s top honor.

The Peacock, dragged down in part by low-rated gymnastics over the weekend and fewer hours of its unscripted summer hits, slid to its lowest weekly 18-49 rating since last September but still extended a winning streak that began in mid-April. NBC also prevailed for a 13th straight frame in 18-34 and for a 14th straight in 25-54.

Over at ABC, three original editions of “Millionaire” ranked as the week’s most-watched programs, led by Sunday’s seg (13.45 million viewers), while the premiere of “The Wayne Brady Show” easily won its hour (10.39 million). The Alphabet’s weekly scores in total viewers and adults 18-49 were its second best of the summer.

Second half-hour of “Brady” tied with NBC’s “Friends” as the week’s top show in adults 18-49, with a 4.9 rating. It’s the first time since the Academy Awards in March that ABC has had the top program in the demo, and the first time since last August (“Millionaire”) that one of its entertainment series has turned the trick.

It’s also the first time since its season finale in May that “Friends” has topped the list.

CBS enjoyed its best week of demos to date for “Big Brother 2,” but remained third in total viewers (with its second smallest aud of the summer) and fourth in adults 18-49. “Brother,” which aired in its new 9 o’clock time period, won five of its six half-hours in the demo, even though Saturday’s seg aired after midnight in key markets.

Fox was third in adults 18-49 but first in men 18-34 and men 18-49 (tied with ABC). Without “Fear Factor” repeats to deal with on Sunday, net took control of the night in key demos, with its “The Simpsons” and “Malcolm in the Middle” the week’s top two shows in men 18-49.

The WB, bolstered by a rare Sunday movie and the Tuesday premiere of “Gilmore Girls,” logged its largest weekly aud in 10 weeks, although it still lagged UPN.

Monday

A four-episode “Everybody Loves Raymond” marathon on Aug. 13 helped CBS end NBC’s two-month Monday winning streak in 18-49.

Not having “Fear Factor” in its arsenal certainly hurt NBC, as did a poorly performing repeat of “Third Watch” (5.56m, 2.0/6 in A18-49) in its intended fall timeslot at 9. “Weakest Link,” airing at 8 in its new slot, edged “Raymond” repeats in 18-49 (3.4/11 vs. 3.2/10) but fell well short of what “Fear Factor” averaged with its original Monday segs (5.7/18). “Dateline” (3.8/11) crushed the competish at 10.

Fox’s “Boston Public” (2.4/8 in A18-49) and “Ally McBeal” (2.2/6) rallied to best-since-June demo marks, while ABC flopped with the network preem of “The Newton Boys” (5.27m, 1.6/5 in A18-49).

Sunday

Fox returned to preeminence on the night in adults 18-49, with all four of its laffers winning their slots.

CBS’ “Touched by an Angel” grabbed its best 18-49 rating (2.3/7) in 10 weeks, while the WB posted its largest Sunday aud in 10 weeks (2.3 million) by ditching its comedies for repeat pic “The Replacement Killers.”

NBC’s 10 p.m. “Weakest Link” repeat fell to its lowest 18-49 score to date (2.8/8), following the net’s firstrun made-for “Dying to Dance” (2.1/6).

Saturday

Fox took the night in adults 18-49 and total viewers, with CBS second in both. The Eye’s “Big Brother 2″ (2.4/8 in A18-49) finished just a tick behind its best score despite football-related delays on affils in New York, L.A. and Chicago, among others.

Friday

ABC made it eight straight wins on the night in total viewers, led by “20/20″ (10.22m). NBC was a close second in viewers and won in 18-49, as a two-hour “Dateline” (8.77m, 2.7/11 in A18-49) provided a boost.

UPN reality series “Manhunt” was down 25% in adults 18-49 vs. its week-earlier preem (0.6/3 vs. 0.8/3).

Thursday

ABC took the night in total viewers and NBC in adults 18-49, with CBS second in both. Eye’s “Big Brother 2″ won its hour with its best ratings for any night in 18-49 (4.2/12), 25-54 (4.7/12) and key male demos.

Although down from the previous week’s big scores, UPN’s “WWF Smackdown” (6.87m, 2.9/9 in A18-49) won in all male demos and was second in adults 18-34 (3.7/12).

Wednesday

ABC won for a third straight week in adults 18-49 behind the strong premiere of “The Wayne Brady Show” (Daily Variety, Aug. 10). Variety show was the week’s top program among teens (4.5/19) and placed in the top five in both adults 18-49 and 18-34.

Fox’s 9 o’clock comedies “Titus” and “Family Guy” are clicking with the net’s core aud, winning their slots in teens and young male demos.

Tuesday

“Big Brother 2″ (8.90m, 4.1/12 in A18-49), airing at 9 for the first time, won by all key measures and sent Fox’s “Murder in Smalltown X” to lowest-yet marks (Daily Variety, Aug. 9).

Two repeat hours of “Gilmore Girls” gave the WB its second best 18-49 rating on the night in six weeks (1.2/4), with the first hour — its intended fall timeslot — finishing second in females 12-34 (2.5/9).

Monday

A highlights hour of “Fear Factor” (9.86m, 4.6/15 in A18-49) combined with quizzer “Weakest Link” (10.90m, 4.5/13) on Aug. 6 to give NBC another Monday victory.

Even with the lowest-rated Monday night preseason NFL opener ever (8.98m, 3.5/11 in A18-49 for Rams-Dolphins), ABC won in male demos and posted its best 18-49 score on the night since May.

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