Alphabet sked shuffles loom

Frog 'Girls' go, Eye flies as ABC looks to Tuesday reorg

ABC’s Tuesday, once the network’s dominant night, is crumbling around its soft center this season — with sked changes imminent after an even weaker perf from “Bob Patterson” in its second try.

In other ratings news, the WB’s two-hour debut of “Gilmore Girls” got off to a fast start Tuesday, while CBS continued to roll on the night with its drama lineup. New comedies on Fox (“Undeclared”) and NBC (“Scrubs”) also held up nicely.

While nothing was official late Wednesday, industry insiders expect the Alphabet to immediately pull soph sitcom “What About Joan” from its 8:30 p.m. Tuesday slot, as the net attempts to find a way to pump new ratings blood into the night. “Bob,” now airing at 9, is expected to get a few more weeks at bat, but probably in a less challenging 8:30 p.m. slot.

ABC also is likely to pull “The Mole II” from Fridays at 8, relaunching it on a new night either immediately or later this season. Network probably will announce a new sked today.

In addition, Alphabet execs have postponed the launch of a Saturday night franchise of James Bond pics until midseason. Net had planned to launch the package Oct. 6, but decided now wasn’t the time to devote marketing muscle to an unimportant night.

Fox also is tinkering with its sked, announcing that Wednesday laffers “Titus” and the new “Bernie Mac Show” — set to premiere next month — will swap slots. “Bernie” moves up to 9 o’clock, with “Titus” now at 9:30.

As for Tuesday’s Nielsens, CBS won in total viewers (15.96 million), adults 25-54 (5.7/13) and women 25-54 (7.0/15), and finished a strong second to NBC for the lead in adults 18-49. It’s the first time the net has won an in-season Tuesday in its target demo since tying NBC for the lead last November.

“JAG” (17.04m, 4.3/11 in 18-49) and “Judging Amy” (16m, 4.8/12) again led the way for the Eye, winning their hours in viewers and key demos, but the Eye also is clicking at 9 with “The Guardian.” In its third outing, show (14.84m, 4.1/10) was second to NBC’s comedies in demos and won its hour in total viewers for the first time.

The Eye’s ascension coincides with the Alphabet’s collapse.

ABC fell to fourth in adults 18-49 on Tuesday with its worst in-season score on record (3.3/8). Net finished third on Tuesday last week (4.0/10), second on premiere Tuesday (5.6/14) and first for all of last season (5.3/14).

While the whole night needs repair, the glaring weakness is in the two-hour comedy block’s center. Jason Alexander’s “Bob Patterson” (6.92m, 2.9/7 in 18-49) plunged 33% in 18-49 from its weak preem, finishing 9 shares behind NBC’s “Frasier” (15.10m, 6.5/16).

“Bob” dropped to sixth in adults 18-34 (2.1/6) and to fourth in total viewers — behind the WB’s “Gilmore Girls.” Not that “Bob” got much help, as 8:30 comedy “What About Joan” (6.72m, 2.5/6 in 18-49) ran fifth in the demo.

With little support, new drama “Philly” (8.85m, 3.8/10) is also struggling at 10, falling well behind “Judging Amy” (which drew its largest aud since December) and fading to an 18-49 rating that’s below every episode of “NYPD Blue” and “Once and Again” to air there the last two seasons.

ABC’s small rays of hope come from vets “Dharma & Greg” (8.54, 3.4/9), which was up slightly week-to-week but still a soft third place at 8, and 9:30’s “Spin City” (7.73m, 3.4/8), which improved upon its “Bob” lead-in by 17% in 18-49 but remained fourth.

NBC won the night in 18-49, although it slipped to its lowest score of the season (4.8/12). “Frasier” (15.10m, 6.5/16) again dominated its half-hour in key demos but — given the decline in the time period by ABC’s “Bob” — surprisingly dipped 7% week-to-week.

New laffer “Scrubs” (11.78m, 5.7/14) followed at 9:30 by retaining a healthy 88% of “Frasier’s” 18-49 aud — down from its very strong 99% premiere-week hold — and building on its lead-in in men 18-34 (4.5/14 vs. 4.3/13). “Dateline” closed out the night with another 18-49 win (5.0/13).

Net’s “Emeril” (7.39m, 3.1/8) remains in fourth at 8, but has performed respectably in a tough slot opposite two vet laffers, while 8:30’s “Three Sisters” (7.63m, 3.5/9) continues to do OK, gaining 1 share point from its lead-in.

Fox won the opening hour in adults 18-49, with “Undeclared” (4.6/12) retaining 90% of its “That ’70s Show” lead-in (5.1/14). Comedy tied for the 18-49 lead with “JAG” and won in 18-34 (5.5/16), holding 96% of its lead-in.

Fox’s “Love Cruise” (6.29m, 3.4/8) continues to sail off with modest marks heading into next week’s finale.

Tuesday’s tussle between the weblets was a close battle at 8 before “Gilmore Girls” put the night in the WB’s win column by easily topping UPN’s “Roswell.”

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (5.58m, 2.6/7 in 18-49) fell by 32% from its week-earlier preem, and dropped more than 25% below what it delivered in its second episode last season on the WB. At 9, “Roswell” (3.87m, 1.7/4), another WB transfer, held 65% of its “Buffy” 18-49 lead-in.

Second-year drama “Gilmore,” meanwhile, surged to best-ever numbers in viewers (6.55m), adults 18-49 (2.6/6), adults 18-34 (2.7/8) and other demos. It was the No. 1 show of the night among females 12-34 (5.2/14).

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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