‘Ed’ helps NBC bowl strikes

'Jim' accords laffs for ABC

HOLLYWOOD — The season premiere of “Ed” bolstered NBC’s already strong Wednesday lineup this week, while ABC got some much-needed good news on the comedy front as new laffer “According to Jim” held up well in its second try.

Other ratings news from Wednesday night included continued strong perfs from UPN’s “Enterprise,” a good start for Fox’s post-season baseball and small year-to-year declines for the premiere of the WB’s drama lineup.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the second-season bow of “Ed” teamed with the season preem of “The West Wing” and another big “Law & Order” to give NBC a sweep of the night’s hours in adults 18-49 and total viewers. Net won by 6 shares in the demo and averaged 8.5 million viewers more than second-place ABC.

“Ed” was a narrow winner in the 8 o’clock hour over CBS’ “60 Minutes II” in total viewers (12.28 million vs. 12.03m) and finished in a virtual tie with ABC’s comedies in 18-49 (4.6/12). Averages were about on par with “Ed’s” Wednesday premiere last December.

‘Wing’ demos soar

“West Wing” (23.65m, 8.8/21 in 18-49) was down about 10% from its record-setting terrorist-themed special episode of last week, but its official season preem still ranks as its third- best perf ever in 18-49. It won over second-place ABC by 9 shares in 18-49, 12 shares in 25-54 and 3 shares in 18-34.

“Law & Order” (22.07m, 8.4/22), down slightly from last week’s marks, won its hour by 11 shares in 18-49.

Over at ABC, second week of “According to Jim” (9.81m, 4.7/12 in 18-49) built by 7% on the 18-49 lead-in of “My Wife and Kids” (10.86m, 4.4/13) — that’s down from the previous week’s surprisingly strong 17% build, but an encouraging follow-up perf nonetheless. “Jim” finished behind only “Ed” in 18-49 (4.7 vs. 5.2).

One caveat to the strong comedy showing for ABC is that the numbers for “Wife” and “Jim” declined week to week despite not facing comedy competish from Fox, which was airing baseball. But given ABC’s comedy woes on Tuesday, any laffer that can virtually match or build on the net’s hottest entry is a positive sign.

ABC improved week to week at 9, as “Drew Carey” (11.00m, 5.5/13) delivered its best demo score since March, and “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (9.24m, 4.7/11) and “20/20” (11.97m, 4.4/11) placed second.

The WB was off by 5% in adults 18-49 from its opening Wednesday of a season ago (2.0 vs. 2.1), with “Dawson’s Creek” (4.47m, 2.1/6) down 16% and “Felicity” (3.65m, 1.8/4) up 6%. “Dawson’s” was third in its hour in women 18-34 (4.1/11), “Felicity” fourth (3.6/9).

‘Enterprise’ dampens Frog

Frog net is getting tougher competish from weblet rival UPN on Wednesdays this fall, as “Enterprise” (7.81m, 4.2/11) declined 9% from its strong second week and finished 35% ahead of what UPN got from “Star Trek: Voyager” in its third episode a year ago (3.1/8). It won its hour in all adult male demos.

UPN’s “Special Unit 2” (4.23m, 1.9/5) held up well in week two, down a tick in 18-49 and enough to edge “Felicity,” although the latter won in 18-34.

Fox averaged 8.32 million viewers and a 3.1/8 in adults 18-49 for its first primetime playoff baseball game of the season (Athletics vs. Yankees) — up 17% and 13%, respectively, vs. Game 2 between the same teams on a Wednesday last season.

CBS ran third for the night by most measures, with “Amazing Race” falling to its second lowest 18-49 rating of the season (3.7/9). And after some decent young-adult scores in recent weeks, 10 o’clock drama “Wolf Lake” (5.91m, 2.4/6) fell to season lows.

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