ABC, Fox, Cablers have big Sunday

A strong Sunday has secured ABC’s second weekly victory of the season in the key young adult demo and its first of the campaign in total viewers.

Although the Alphabet web continues to perform well below last year’s levels, football action — the big college bowl games — helped it step into the winner’s circle for the second time in three weeks.

When Nielsen issues weekly primetime ratings today for the Dec. 31-Jan. 6 frame, ABC is expected to finish on top comfortably in both adults 18-49 (projected 4.5 rating) and total viewers (12.8 million). Its victory in the latter snaps an eight-week winning streak for CBS, which is in a close battle with NBC for second (about 10.6 million for each).

In adults 18-49, season leader NBC will place second (projected 4.0), followed by Fox (3.7) and CBS (3.4).

According to Nielsen estimates, ABC took Sunday in adults 18-49 with roughly a 4.7 rating, winning the night’s final two hours with “Alias” (projected 4.6/10) and “The Practice” (projected 5.6/13). Net’s repeat of “Dr. Dolittle” (projected 12.1 million, 4.4/10 in 18-49) also did well, winning its block in women 18-49 and 25-54.

Fox was second in 18-49, with “The Simpsons” (prelim 5.8/13) and “Malcolm in the Middle” (5.6/12) winning their time periods. At 9, “X-Files” (prelim 4.1/9) finished in a virtual tie with NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (prelim 4.2/9).

CBS was second in adults 25-54 and total viewers, boosted by a roughly 15-minute NFL overrun (a key Jets-Raiders game on the final Sunday of the regular season).

The night was a big one for premieres on cable, with ratings for the season bows of HBO’s “Sex and the City” and “Oz,” Lifetime’s “The Division” and Showtime’s “Queer as Folk,” as well as original F/X telepic “Sins of the Father,” to be issued today by Nielsen.

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