Fox, ABC laugh all the way to top with comedy, game

Nets tie in adults 18-49, Alphabet wins in total viewers

Strong comedy perfs made ratings winners out of Fox and ABC on Tuesday, while the WB tasted a sweet victory of its own when “Angel” topped soon-to-depart lead-in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for the first time this season.

According to Nielsen, Fox and ABC tied on the night in adults 18-49 (4.8/13), with the Alphabet net winning for an 11th straight Tuesday in total viewers (13.1 million) and Fox prevailing by 3 shares in adults 18-34 (5.1/16).

Fox, which has moved into second place for the sweep in adults 18-49, was led by “That ’70s Show” and “Titus,” each of which led their half-hours in 18-49 and younger demos. “Titus” retained a season-best 95% of “’70s’ ” 18-49 lead-in (5.4/15 vs. 5.7/18).

ABC seemed to get a bit of a boost out of the first “couples” edition of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” as the quizzer topped its last three regular Tuesday editions and won its hour in total viewers (16.35m), while placing second in 18-49 (4.5/14). It was also the best-ever 18-49 build on the half-hour for “Millionaire” (50% gain at 8:30 from 3.6 to 5.4), which tied “Titus” for first at 8:30.

That led into a strong outing for the first of a two-part “Dharma & Greg” season finale (12.12m, 5.3/14 in A18-49), which finished just 2 shares behind 18-49 leader “Frasier” in the half-hour and captured its time period in adults 18-34 (5.0/14).

Rest of the night wasn’t so good for ABC, as rookie laffer “What About Joan” (7.97m, 3.8/10 in A18-49) fell to season lows opposite the second half-hour of “Frasier,” and “NYPD Blue” (12.93m, 5.5/15) logged its second weakest scores of the season, although it still won its hour in demos.

NBC was third in both viewers and 18-49 (4.3/12), with only a one-hour “Frasier” (15.63m, 6.6/17 in A18-49) making any noise. It easily won its hour, even though the net’s 8 o’clock hour comedies and 10 p.m.’s “Dateline” finished last among the major webs.

CBS ranked second in viewers but fourth in demos, dragged down by “60 Minutes II.” Newsmag drew its smallest audience in more than seven months (9.52m) and its weakest adults 18-49 rating (2.1/6) since last July 4.

But “Judging Amy” more than doubled its demo lead-in (4.3/11) and drew its largest aud since February (14.42m); it outdrew “NYPD Blue” for the first time in four weeks.

The Frog net was croaking about its “Angel” (5.18m, 2.5/6 in A18-49, 3.1/9 in persons 12-34), which topped progenitor “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (4.76m, 2.4/7, 2.7/9) by these and other measures for the first time this season. “Buffy” is leaving the Frog for UPN after next Tuesday’s season finale while “Angel” is relocating to the WB’s Monday night.

With eight nights to be counted in the May sweep, NBC is on top in adults 18-49 (4.7/14), followed by Fox (4.2/12), CBS (4.1/12) and ABC (3.9/12). CBS leads in total viewers (13.13m), with only NBC (11.42m) more than a dot in its rearview mirror.

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