Preems pass the test

Eye's 'Bickford,' ABC's 'Practice' bow well

New CBS drama “The Education of Max Bickford” received solid grades from auds in its bow Sunday, while ABC’s “The Practice” again made its case as the drama to beat on the night with a big two-hour premiere.

The eve of the new season also saw Fox grab winning scores with its premiere of “Rush Hour” and NBC do pretty well with its “50 Years of NBC Late Night” special.

According to Nielsen preliminary nationals, Richard Dreyfuss starrer “Max Bickford” won its time period in total viewers (prelim 17.9 million) and adults 25-54 (6.4/14) while finishing in a virtual tie with the first hour of “Rush” in 18-49 (4.6/12). These numbers likely will come down slightly in nationals because the prelims don’t account for the drama’s late start in about a quarter of the country due to National Football League overrun.

Topping ‘Angel’

“Bickford” scored best with the Eye’s target 25-54 aud; its preem was roughly 20% better than what “Touched by an Angel” averaged with originals in the hour last season.

The results rep a solid start for “Bickford,” but they’re a bit unspectacular given the show’s star power (Dreyfuss is joined by fellow Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden) and heavy promotion. “Bickford” also saw some audience dropoff in the second half-hour in many markets.

CBS, which won the night in total viewers, was boosted by the largest aud for “60 Minutes” (projected 15 million) since April, but received a sluggish perf from Sidney Poitier made-for “The Last Brickmaker in America” (projected 12 million).

ABC’s “The Practice” (prelim 18 million, 6.9/15 in A18-49) dominated its two hours and helped the net to a virtual first-place tie on the night with Fox in 18-49. It’s the largest aud ever for a “Practice” season preem.

The broadcast premiere of “Rush Hour” (prelim 12.5m, 5.1/12 in A18-49) combined with an NFL overrun (prelim 5.1/15 in A18-49) to give Fox the night in adults 18-49 (virtual tie with ABC), adults 18-34 and all male demos. It’s the best movie perf since “True Lies” in March for Fox, whose Sunday lineup won’t premiere until November due to baseball.

‘Night’ right for Peacock

NBC, which bows its much revamped Sunday lineup next week, got good mileage out of its two-hour “Late Night” clips show (prelim 11.8m, 5.4/12 in A18-49). Other than sports or awards shows, it’s the net’s second-best 18-49 showing in the time period in 10 months.

Meanwhile, Nielsen has delayed until Wednesday the release of final ratings for the weekend. ABC and NBC are projected to be in a close battle for the week’s lead among adults 18-49, while ABC should prevail in total viewers.

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