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Strong Sunday fuels Alphabet, Fox

Rupe's net sweeps with 'Island,' 'Gunmen'

Strong perfs on Sunday night proved the difference for Fox and ABC last week as the nets rallied for narrow ratings victories in young adults and total viewers, respectively.

Fox, which finished the February sweep with five consecutive triumphs in adults 18-49, took five nights last week in the demo (including one tie) and raced past second-place NBC over the weekend, according to Nielsen. Net placed three of the week’s top 10 shows, led by “Temptation Island” at No. 3 (9.6/22), and also saw a strong debut for “X-Files” spinoff “The Lone Gunmen” on Sunday (13.23 million, 6.6/14 in A18-49).

It’s only Fox’s second weekly 18-49 victory of the season — the fewest of the major nets — but its consistent second and third-place finishes over the last two months have enabled it to move into a tie with ABC for second place through 22 weeks of the season. Fox also won in adults 18-34 for the seventh time in eight weeks.

ABC’s razor-thin victory over CBS in total viewers, its first in seven weeks, wasn’t ensured until its strong showing on Sunday. Special pic “Oprah Winfrey Presents: Amy & Isabelle” dominated the night’s final two hours and ranks as the most-watched single-part movie of the season (19.39 million).

NBC won the week in adults 25-54 but lost its chance to prevail in adults 18-49 over the weekend, placing fourth on both Saturday (with the XFL) and Sunday (with the opening night of two-part pic “Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot”). Net’s Wednesday and Thursday programs claimed seven of the week’s top 14 shows in the demo.

CBS fell back to fourth in adults 18-49 but was again second in its target of adults 25-54. The Eye, like Fox and the WB, was up more than 20% in key demos vs. the same week last year.

‘Survivor’ strong

“Survivor” drew the largest aud for any regularly skedded series this season (31.32m) and has been the most-watched program all five weeks it’s aired on Thursday. For the first time, it also topped “ER” in key demos, ranking as the No. 1 show of the week in adults 18-49 (13.7/34), adults 25-54 (15.0/33) and adults 18-34 (13.2/35).

But a similarly impressive story is also emerging for CBS in the post-“Survivor” hour, where rookie drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” won its hour in adults 18-49 for the first time (opposite repeats of NBC comedies) and hit new series highs across the board.

Other than NBC’s dominant “ER,” you’d have to go back to the Jan. 30, 2000, post-Super Bowl episode of ABC’s “The Practice” to find the last time a one-hour drama episode on any network delivered a larger audience or adults 25-54 rating than last week’s “CSI” (23.72m, 11.5/24).

Monday

CBS scored victories on March 5 in viewers (14.1 million) and 18-49 (5.3/13) despite its first three laffers airing in repeats. A special “48 Hours” at 10 clocked in with an 18-49 rating (4.6/12) that topped every seg of regular slot occupant “Family Law” since Oct. 16.

Fox rested its dramas for repeats of four comedies and scored a second-place 4.7/11 in adults 18-49 — a 24% gain vs. what the net got the last time it aired repeats of its two dramas (3.8/9).

NBC’s “Women of Camelot” concluded with unspectacular numbers (10.70m, 3.1/8 in A18-49); for its two nights, it ranks third among the season’s six two-parters in total viewers (10.75m) and fourth in 18-49 (3.3/8).

The WB’s “Gilmore Girls” repeat at 9 retained a solid 53% of its repeat “7th Heaven” lead-in among total viewers (3.12m vs. 5.85m) and 65% in adults 18-49 (1.5/3 vs. 2.3/6).

Sunday

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (19.53m) and “Amy & Isabelle” (19.39m) gave ABC the two most-watched shows of the night, helping the net win by 4.8 million viewers over second-place CBS. Fox still came out on top by 2 shares in adults 18-49, claiming the top three shows of the night: “The Simpsons” (8.8/21), “Malcolm in the Middle” (7.8/17) and “Lone Gunmen” (6.6/14).

Saturday

CBS’ “Kate Brasher” cooled a bit from its strong premiere, but still won its hour in total viewers (10.13m) and women 25-54 (4.7/12).

The XFL on NBC fell to new lows in its fifth week (3.54m, 1.5/5 in A18-49), with its male teens rating (1.6/7) declining another 27% week-to-week.

Friday

NBC, airing all originals, won easily in total viewers (12.8 million) and adults 18-49 (4.3/13), led by “Law & Order: SVU” (14.56m, 5.1/15).

CBS’ telecast of the “Miss USA Pageant” (7.82m, 2.8/8 in A18-49) fell to all-time low marks, down 35% year-to-year in viewers and 24% in the demo.

“Millionaire” (15.93, 4.1/12) won the 9 p.m. hour, as NBC’s “Dateline” (10.40m, 3.4/10) slipped to its lowest scores since December.

Thursday

CBS won a Thursday in households and total viewers for the first time since February 1985, while NBC held on to win in adults 18-49 (Daily Variety, March 5).

The premiere of “Big Apple” held a so-so 48% of its “CSI” lead-in among adults 18-49. Of the “CSI” audience, “Apple” held onto its men 50-plus audience the best (70% retention), followed by men 35-49 (55%) and men 18-34 (45%); women 18-34 were the most likely to bail, with just 36% sticking around after “CSI.”

Wednesday

ABC’s “The Mole” wrapped its first season by winning the 8 p.m. hour with best-yet numbers in total viewers (15.41m) and adults 18-49 (6.0/16). An hour later, Fox’s “Temptation Island” also capped its first season by winning in adults 18-49 (9.6/22), adults 18-34 (12.7/31) and teens (9.3/30), ranking No. 3 for the week among all programs in the latter two categories.

UPN’s “Star Trek: Voyager,” building toward its series finale in May, notched its best scores in 13 weeks among men 18-34 (1.9/5) and women 18-34 (2.0/5).

Tuesday

On a night that included President Bush’s first State of the Union address to Congress, CBS won in total viewers, while Fox and ABC tied in adults 18-49 (Daily Variety, March 1).

The WB’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (2.8/7) and “Angel” (2.6/6) logged their best 18-49 numbers since November, and together were up 35% vs. the same night a year ago.

Monday

ABC’s two-parter “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows” was down sharply vs. its premiere on Feb. 26 but wrapped as the No. 1 mini of the season (16.9m, 5.6/13 in A18-49).

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